Meet Lynn Olson, self-titled "street walker." She’s gone up and down Central Avenue, trying to pull people in to her language school. Meet Blong Yang, an attorney talking about his service to community before he ran for Hennepin County commissioner. He’s now running for Fifth Ward City Council Member. Busy, serious Isela Perez Pacheco from Maya Cuisine, and Ayan Ahmed, who’s charmed by her Somali mother’s now-decent grasp of English language listening.
They came to the Northeast Network at the East Side Food Co-op Oct. 10 to talk about making connections with people from various cultures, offering some insights into their own cultures’ behavior patterns and assumptions.
Come Nov. 25, the Northeast Harvest Gathering will spark more table conversation about meeting neighbors. The free event is at 7 p.m. at Northeast Middle School, come early for the Northeast Middle School Fall Concert and Art Show at 5:30-6:30. After keynote speaker Bernadeia Johnson, there will be coffee, sweets and other refreshments from local restaurants.
The organizers would really appreciate it, and you will, too, if everyone within reach of this newspaper could attend and bring a Northeast friend from another country or culture.
Beyond these organized events, there are opportunities to take a trip without leaving the farm; to explore many nations in our own back yard. While we, your publishers, continuously need to do more along these lines, we can attest that it’s very rewarding to step into unfamiliar situations and figure out what’s going on. We do it in the course of reporting the news, and if we feel awkward, can hide behind our cameras and notebooks. According to those who spoke at the Network meeting, a smile works wonders in most cultures when trying to connect.
There are many ethnic bakeries along Central Avenue - explore. At some, you’re expected to select your purchases using tongs and a tray, with your order rung up at the end. At some restaurants, the check never comes to the table, you need to go to the register. It’s as if someone were trying to say "Meet us where we are."