Dinner celebrates culture, diversity

About 100 people gathered at the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA for the Rockford Diversity Committee’s annual Bridges Dinner to share great food and to learn about different cultures. While Michele Lussky showed the kids some fun games that celebrated diversity, the adults listened to Martha Gonzalez-Cortes, CEO of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, describe her experiences as a child of migrant farm workers.

Cortes talked about how one person can make a very positive or a very negative impact on another person’s life. Although she often had been terrified of racist graffiti directed toward her family, she had also been encouraged to continue her education right up to the present day as Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Shibler strengthened her resolve to complete her PhD. Cortes left the audience to ponder some very important questions, such as, “What have you done to make people from other cultures feel welcome in your neighborhood?”

 The next best way to learn about different cultures is to read about them. That is why Janet Weston of The Reading Tree was also on hand to provide books that will be discussed at later times and locations. “Elijah Buxton” by Greg Schmidt, a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, will be discussed May 4 at 7 p.m. at The Reading Tree, 5300 Northland Drive, Grand Rapids. This book is primarily for fourth- through eighth-graders. “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, currently on the New York Time’s Bestseller List, will be discussed May 7 at 11 a.m. at the home of Diana Koslowske. For directions, please e-mail to dikoslowske@juno.com. “Stealing Buddha’s Dinner” by Bich Minh Nguyen, a Vietnamese refugee who grew up in Grand Rapids, will be discussed June 7 at 6 p.m. at the Plainfield Library. Everyone is welcome to join in these book discussions.

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