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Three members of the I Belong Philly team welcome attendees to the 4th "One City, Many Cultures" event. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Three members of the I Belong Philly team welcome attendees to the 4th "One City, Many Cultures" event. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

An event that celebrates the diverse cultures of Philadelphia

I Belong Philly hosted its annual “One City, Many Cultures” event last Saturday, November 5.

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In a city with as many cultures as Philadelphia has, I Belong Philly hosts a signature event each year that highlights that cultural diversity.

On Saturday, November 5, I Belong Philly hosted its annual “One City, Many Cultures” event at The Welcoming Center.

“The purpose of ‘One City, Many Cultures’ is to promote understanding and communication skills in the community, while we are enjoying a variety of cultural workshops,” said Leidy Ochoa, a member of I Belong Philly. 

I Belong Philly is a volunteer-led collaborative organization that centers its mission around uncovering, honoring, and uplifting immigrants in the Philadelphia community, while celebrating the indelible contribution they make throughout the city. 

The activities included dance performances and lessons, cooking demonstrations, workshops on mental well-being, finance and immigration law, art, a poetry presentation, language sessions, and more. 

“Our goal is to connect people through cultural appreciation,” said Nahomie Laurore, an I Belong Philly member. 

“Wherever we come from, wherever we go, we always carry a piece of home with us,” she added. 

To this end, she noted that the “One City, Many Cultures” event is a way for attendees to have the opportunity to learn something about one another and each other’s cultures. 

She added that a key component of the event is to allow individuals to learn something about each other’s cultures. 

A local Cambodian dance group performing. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
A local Cambodian dance group performing. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

According to the dancers from Khmer Performing Arts and Culture, the performances consist of traditional Cambodian culture.

The dances promote prosperity and friendship, as well as kindness and forgiveness.

Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

Food and cuisine are other prominent parts of an individual's culture.

Lina is originally from Colombia. During the “One City, Many Cultures” event, she demonstrated the recipe for Coctel de Camarones — a very popular dish that originated in Mexico.

The recipe typically calls for oranges, green lemons, onions, avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, shrimp and ketchup. 

A cooking demonstration for Coctel de Camarones. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
A cooking demonstration for Coctel de Camarones. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

The juices from the fruits are then mixed together with the other ingredients to provide the finished product. 

Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

Silvia Roldán is the executive member of the I Belong Philly team.

In addition to her volunteer work with the organization, she is also a business owner and entrepreneur. 

In 2017, she launched Yaku Wear, an online boutique store that sells traditional, custom, handmade Panama hats and jewelry from her native country, Ecuador.

Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

 During the “One City, Many Cultures” event, Roldán held a raffle for one of those hand-crafted hats, which was won by a local poet who also performed four poems during the event.

A well-traveled musician and percussionist, Hafez Kotain has often used his music to bring people together and build cultural bridges.

Born in Venezuela and raised in Syria, he has been able to connect both those cultures, as well as various others he has encountered throughout his journey. 

Hafez Kotain is the owner and CEO of Hafez Percussion Inc. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Hafez Kotain is the owner and CEO of Hafez Percussion Inc. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

Through music, dances, food, language and more, individuals are able to learn a part of others who may come from different parts of the world. 

The variety of activities of this annual event puts that idea at the forefront. It goes a long way toward helping immigrants and individuals from diverse backgrounds feel more welcoming in a new region.

 “We are super happy because we are helping immigrants integrate into this beautiful city,” said Maria Eugenia Gonzalez, a member of I Belong Philly.  

To learn more about I Belong Philly, click here

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