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Section 1. Understanding Culture and Diversity in Building Communities

EXAMPLE 1: Two Communities Come Together For One Annual Celebration (New York City)

They tend to be insular and lead separate lives as a rule, but for a free, day-long event held in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Chinatown, two immigrant communities unite to celebrate their diversity and cultural heritage. Jews from Eastern Europe and the Chinese shared the challenge of maintaining their cultures in the face of rapid change and have sought similar things in America: freedom from persecution and prejudice, and opportunities to advance economically and socially.

Image of the Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival parade.

The annual Egg Rolls & Egg Creams Festival helps to introduce these two diverse communities to each other and to audience members from other cultural groups. By increasing awareness through art, they believe they will create an opportunity for understanding and dialogue. The festival features 30 folk artists and performance groups and pays tribute to the cultural practices of traditional language, arts, music, and dance.

Image of Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival calligraphy.

This community-building event is sponsored by the Museum at Eldridge Street, and it fulfills two important aspects of their mission: (1) to preserve Eastern European culture and (2) to promote Lower East Side neighborhood cultural diversity and inter-group understanding. The entire festival incorporates hands-on activities through a variety of games, performances, and crafts, allowing visitors to participate directly and integrate what they are learning.

Image of Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival makeup.

From the festival’s humble beginnings with 250 neighborhood visitors, attendance has grown to attract more than 9,000 people in 2014. Part of this dramatic increase includes many repeat visitors, attesting to the festival’s importance.

Image of  Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival dancing.

Photos courtesy of the Museum at Eldridge Street.

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