Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Festival of Nations

I really love diversity. My family is full of different nationalities; Chinese, Ethiopian, Norwegian, Native American, Mexican, etc, etc... I love to see that kind of beauty shining out wherever I can find it. (I love this picture of my brothers and sisters and cousins..):

 There are some who call America a "melting pot;" where nationalities come together.. But so often in our cities we separate ourselves into districts and ethnic enclaves. I guess it's natural in a way; we want to be around people whose culture we share and who we can identify with. That's how urban ethnic zones are formed. But who is to say that we can't adapt a little bit of other cultures as our own? That is one of the beauties of the opportunities that I have had in recent years to surround myself with an incredibly diverse group of people. I used to see Saint Louis as a city that simply consisted of black and white - two groups that tried very hard to stay away from each other.  But I took the amazing opportunity to become involved with international students and refugees here in Saint Louis, and met so many friends who were not only Caucasian and African American, but also from Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burma, Bhutan, Indonesia, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, France, South Sudan, Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan, India, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Cuba (and the list goes on and on...)

Last weekend we celebrated the Festival of Nations in Saint Louis. I love this tradition because it represents all of these friendships, and the diversity that I love so much. The festival brings us together to appreciate our uniqueness and cultural variety, rather than estranging us and pushing us apart. Food, artisan crafts, music, dancing...

Brazilian Pescado

Haitian rice and beans

 The festival is put on by the International Institute, the biggest refugee assistance organization in Saint Louis. (The one I have done work with is called Oasis International).

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