By: Adriana Kusnirova, Greenheart Exchange, Work and Travel International Partner Relations Director
The mayor of Anchorage, Ethan Berkowitz, proclaimed June 23, 2017, as Anchorage’s official ‘Better Understanding, Better World’ day. The holiday’s mission is to welcome exchange visitors to Alaska and bridge cultural gaps between nations. The city of Anchorage recognizes the importance of cultural diversity; in Anchorage, there are 155 primary languages spoken amongst K-12 students!
I celebrated ‘Better Understanding, Better World’ day with some of our international partners, participants, industry sponsors, area host organizations, and local government representatives from Governor Walker’s and Mayor Berkowitz’s offices. It was an exciting day full of events which recognized other cultures and their rich history. J-1 exchange participants from China, Thailand, and Slovakia performed national anthems and talents like kung fu, traditional dances, a magic show, and a culinary presentation on how to make Chinese bamboo leaf-wrapped sweet rice dumplings. In return, Americans shared some Alaskan traditions, including the national anthem, native blessings with song and dance, the 4-H Polynesian dance group, Odissi classical dance, and a luau celebration with a traditional buffet.
The cultural exchange was especially moving for the Special Assistant to Mayor Berkowitz, who was an exchange participant herself in high school! While addressing the group, she mentioned that her exchange experience left a lasting impact on her, broadening her horizons and giving her a deeper appreciation and understanding of other cultures.
This wonderful event was made possible by student volunteers, food donations from host organizations, partner agencies, and space donated by the Anchorage Senior Activity Center. Local seniors were also able to enjoy the event on their way to and from their daily exercise and craft activities. The Anchorage exchange community is already looking forward to the next “Better Understanding, Better World” day event!
Do you love celebrating the rich and diverse cultures that surround you? Check out Greenheart Exchange to see how you can celebrate diversity with us!