Nora Hesse

Nora Hesse

As a land-grant institution, The Ohio State University has a special responsibility to share its scientific-based research with its surrounding communities. To open avenues for community sharing, the university created a system  to address local, national, and global needs through research-based educational programming in 1914 – this is the OSU Extension Program. Nora Hesse is one of the many important people who make up the OSU Extension Program Franklin County.

Nora Hesse moved to Columbus, Ohio around 27 years ago from Mendoza, Argentina. Love brought her to Ohio, she moved to be with her husband who was working in Columbus at the time. Hesse claims to have loved the city from day one, inspired by the natural beauty of the landscape and kindness of the community. Before she knew it, she started a family in Columbus, Ohio, becoming a mother to two children.

Eventually, Hesse started assisting a local study through the extension program. This part time study led to her current position as a program assistant for OSU Extension Franklin County’s EFNEP program. Her strong ties with the city’s Latina/o community and Spanish language skills filled a much needed void for the federally funded program. Hesse’s part of the initiative targets the low-income Latino community specifically through community classes teaching healthy ways to eat and cook. With her work at EFNEP, she’s been in constant contact with the community, something she finds incredibly rewarding.

Life happening in Columbus, Ohio:

🎧 Listen (3:27)
“I was an engineer in Argentina and came to the U.S. and was like “well, what do I do now?”…  And then I had two little ones… we were very lucky to have the means [for me] to be a stay at home mom…  I realized a lot of years passed by without being out there working and I found this opportunity that is totally different from my background… It’s just life, sometimes you get things you envision and sometimes life takes you somewhere completely different.”

The physical strain of being a newcomer:

🎧 Listen (2:58)
“One of the [challenging] things when we arrive to this country, and it happened to me too, is finding ingredients to cook in the way you used to cook in your native place… [I’ve also found] it’s very hard for different reasons too to keep a good level of physical activity.”

Issues of language in the community:

🎧 Listen (2:29)
“The reality is that there is a community that struggles with the language… It’s hard to learn a new language when you are an adult… One of the concerns parents have is that the children understand English at school and bring homework home… When the child says ‘Mama, I cannot understand this, can you help me?’ everything is in English.”

Teaching for OSU Extension Franklin County:

🎧 Listen (2:16)
“The Latino community is a very hardworking community. Sometimes to the point where I say, ‘When are you free to take my classes?’ [They reply] ‘Well, I work two different jobs…’ Between the husband and the wife they cover the day of working and take turns so one of them can watch the kids. Daycares are taken care of at home at least until the age of Headstart.”


Nora Hesse is a program assistant for the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program at OSU.

Empowering the community through education:

🎧 Listen (4:13)
“[These are] valuable people who are human beings. They are not a number. They came for different reasons here, but they are honest and hardworking Latinos… When I see sometimes the hardship that some people go through when they come, oh my gosh, they are amazing… a very good example to people like me who have an easy way to come, with language, with legal status…”
“It amazes me the effort they put into taking care of their families… I’m in this job not for the money or prestige… I’m the invisible [worker] and there are a lot of people like that… through education and knowledge you empower the community.”
Unless otherwise noted, all photos and text are copyrighted to Leticia Wiggins. Music for introduction & interlude by The Original Soundtrack (thanks, guys!).

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