Where arts and diversity meet
An international gathering will be held from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at Crossroads mall. The event is designed for people to meet new friends from around the world and share culture over a cup of tea.
The topic in January is “How is New Year celebrated in your culture?”
The event is co-sponsored by City of Bellevue Cultural Diversity Program and English Around the World.com.
The group meets the first Saturday of each month.
More information is available by contacting Kevin Henry at KHenry@bellevuewa.gov.
As I wrote this on Tuesday, my mouth was already watering at the thought of latkes on that first night of Hanukkah. That night I lit the candles and said the blessings, “Baruch Atah Adonai…”
Then, this weekend, I celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ and went to church with my family – the same folks who already ate latkes and spun the dreidel.
I grew up celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas and a multitude of other traditions that come from a multicultural, interfaith family.
Some would argue that getting a little taste of everything dilutes the actual message of the particular faith. I disagree. Call me an idealistic millennial kid, but I think it brings me closer to my fellow human.
In a season that is supposed to be about peace on earth, good will to all living things, I am continually inspired by my family, friends and people in the community who are open to one another’s beliefs, despite their drastically differing viewpoints. To me, this openness is at the root of peace.
In my own life, I’ve known diverse people to have created successful boyfriend/girlfriend unions, marriages and a particular group of tight-knit girlfriends that includes a secular gay rights activist, a parishioner of Mars Hill Church, several who grew up in Mormon households, a Catholic, a couple agnostics and a Buddhist.
Accepting differences with grace is often one of the most difficult things to do; and something I still need a lot of work at. But when you open your mind, you can gain a lot – plus, you expose yourself to a marketplace of ideas, and are able to affirm your own truth for yourself.
While we get to enjoy Hanukkah and Christmas before Martin Luther King Jr. day next month, (a.k.a. next year) it’s not too early to start thinking of his message of peace during the holidays.
Instead of merely “tolerating” one another, we can learn to accept, and even embrace one another. Instead of Christian, Muslim, black, white, woman, man, liberal, conservative – we must choose to judge someone by the content of her character. We’re all just people after all, right?
In this season of religious holidays, we should remember that religion is about love, compassion and forgiveness. I know the Dalai Lama said that. But I’m sure many others have uttered similar ideas.
At the very core of all these festivities, if you can look past the presents and Hallmark cards, are those very values.
That’s something that I’ve learned from the many, seemingly different, traditions I’ve grown up with.
We all need a little hope sometimes. And now, Bellevue Hopelink, which services homeless and low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities, will be giving hope and help finding a job to nonnative English speakers.
Nonnative English speakers can contact Hopelink to learn how to build skills that will help them in the workplace. Topics covered will include how to research for careers or education options, such as technical or vocational school, short and long-term career planning, how to write a resume and cover letter, prepare for an interview and more.
In 1998, a 21-year-old college student, Matthew Shepard, was brutally murdered: kidnapped, beaten, strung up on a fence and left to die in Laramie, Wyoming.
Why? He was gay.
Shepard is the central component of “The Laramie Project” a play that Interlake High School will perform at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 17-19 at 16245 NE 24th St. The play tells the true story of how Shepard was murdered, not by dramatizing that horrific event, but by presenting monologues based on real interviews of more than 200 Laramie townspeople. The play tells the story of Shepard’s murder using the townspeople’s thoughts and feelings as a vehicle. These interviews were collected by the Tectonic Theater Project five weeks after Shepard was murdered and turned into a play. Read the full story I wrote for the Bellevue Reporter, here.
Many people compare gay rights today, whether it has to do with marriage eqaulity or simply being treated like human beings, as the new civil rights movement. With hate crimes like what happened in Laramie, not to mention the numerous gay teens who took their lives in 2010, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to the “old” civil rights movement, when young men such as Emmett Till were murdered. In Till’s case, he was beaten to death for supposedly flirting with a white woman.
Why? He was black.
Here at Interlake, young people are grappling with a script, and starting a much-needed dialogue about how they feel about discrimination, differences, prejudice and diversity.
Here’s a video clip of “The Laramie Project” by Ben Kadie.
The Executive Development Institute (EDI), held a gala dinner honoring 62 graduates with more than 250 sponsors, mentors, friends and family in attendance at the Hilton Bellevue, last Thursday. The EDI graduates represented emerging leaders and managers from leading Pacific Northwest companies.
This year’s EDI graduates are professionals representing Microsoft Corporation, The Boeing Company, REI, Wells Fargo Bank, Nike, Liberty Mutual, State Farm Insurance, Puget Sound Energy, Ernst & Young, Symetra Financial, Bonneville Power Administration, Schnitzer Investment Corp, KeyBank, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, Mercer, NW Natural, Uwajimaya, and Weyerhaeuser Company.
Karen Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center, gave the keynote address. She pointed out that customers, employees, donors, volunteers, partners are all changing, along with shifting demographics not only in the U.S. but globally as well.
Narasaki stressed the importance of diversity in an institution, and having it be a central component of strategic planning.
“If your employees and management teams aren’t able to work across cultures and languages, your institution will reach a point, in the not too distant future, where you will not be able to grow, to compete, to maximize your profits or serve your mission,” she said.
Steve Shinoda, Director of Information Technology at Uwajimaya who graduated from the the EDI Leadership Navigation Program for senior managers agrees. He said his experience with the program has been enriching both professionally and personally.
“I believe anyone interested in seeking an edge in life should consider [it] a must-do item,” Shinoda said. “I found the experience to be exhilarating, fun, with the right balance of risk taking and challenge within an environment that allows each of us to be authentic.”
EDI is the only Pacific Northwest nonprofit organization focusing on leadership training for multiethnic professionals. For the past 18 years, EDI has collaborated with 50 Northwest corporations to provide business-relevant, culturally-tailored leadership training for Asian and Hispanic participants. More than 600 professionals in various fields have graduated from EDI.
Career consultant and instructor Amanda Johnson will give useful information to job seekers who speak English as a Second Language from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays: Nov. 9, 16, 30 and Dec. 7 at Highland Community Center, 14224 Bel Red Rd., Bellevue.
Johnson has been teaching ESL students for more than 15 years at Bellevue College. Through her classes, she has helped hundreds of people find employment.
The free session will cover how to make a good first impression, setting goals, finding resources and scheduling and preparing for an interview.
Register by Nov. 9 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, go to www.prepareforworknow.com or contact Kevin Henry at email@example.com.
From the powerful Cuban-born Karel Cruz, to the fiery Japanese ballerina, Kaori Nakamura, standouts of Pacific Northwest Ballet have been known to bring international diversity to the stage, hailing from across Latin America, Asia and Europe.
When PNB took on Brazilian ballerina Carla Körbes in 2005, the company would gain yet another star from overseas; plus, a much-admired role model of young dancers.
“She’s what made me want to go on pointe,” 11-year-old Lauren Zimmermann told me for the November issue of The Bellevue Scene.
Zimmermann was not alone. Many of her friends in the PNB School’s level four class expressed their love of the ballerina with gold hair, flawless technique, and a versatility on stage that allows her to portray characters as different as the wicked black swan, to a blushing, girlish Swanilda.
Diverse|City sat down with the international star to discuss her rise to ballet stardom in the United States – a journey that started in her hometown of Porto Alegre, Brazil. Although it’s been 15 years since she left the country, Körbes always carries her blue, green and yellow Brazil sweatshirt in her dance bag. It reminds her of home.
Körbes discussed what it was like to grow up dancing in Brazil and the importance of role models in the often cut-throat world of professional dance.
Diverse|City: Many PNB students say you’re what makes them want to dance en pointe. Do you remember getting your first pair of pointe shoes in Brazil?
Körbes: Unlike PNB, which gets its pointe shoes made in London, my first pair of shoes were made in Brazil. I was 10 years-old. They were really good, but really hard, meaning the shank felt like an iron board. I think they lasted me at least six months. It’s a real contrast to now, where if I’m doing a ballet like “Don Quixote” I will go through one pair a day.
Diverse|City: How did the shoes make you feel?
Körbes: I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to dance in them. I got them with my sister and she was like, ‘Uh-uh.’ She was the smart one who said, ‘No this really hurts.’
Diverse|City: It’s a luxury to be able to get your own custom-made pointe shoes as a PNB dancer. Tell me more about that.
Körbes: They make the box of the shoe (the part that covers the metatarsal) a little wider, narrower, rounder or pointier. We all need something a little different; you can ask them to fit your shoe exactly to your foot. On the bottom of the shoe, each maker engraves the sole with their symbol, like a bell, key or letter of the alphabet. Your last name is spelled on the bottom which is awesome; you always know you have your own shoes.
Diverse|City: How long have you been wearing Freed pointe shoes?
Körbes: My shoe situation has been complicated. I used to wear Freeds when I arrived at PNB, but then I changed to Innovations and have been wearing them for the past eight years. But now, the company’s going out of business so it will be a quest to find a new shoe.
Diverse|City: Who were your ballet idols growing up?
Körbes: When I was a student, I loved Ana Botafogo (prima ballerina of the Teatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro). I wrote her a letter and she sent me a signed copy of her book back. A year later, when she came to dance in my town, she totally remembered who I was. I think it’s important for us as dancers to have someone we can look up to and see who we want to be one day. I don’t think I always realize I’m at the point in my life where I’m the role model.
Diverse|City: Why are role models so important?
Körbes: It motivates [students] and gives them something to look toward. I feel like that even though I didn’t have access to meeting many professional dancers until I was 16. When I moved from Brazil to New York, I finally got to meet more professional dancers, which was so intimidating and exciting, taking class with people like Barishnikov – oh my God. It’s what keeps ballet alive; it’s that dream that starts when you’re 5.
Diverse|City: How have you spent your break between PNB’s “All Wheeldon” program which wrapped up earlier this month and “Love Stories” which will premier Nov. 4?
Körbes: I’ve been working on the variation from “Don Quixote” (premiers Feb. 3-12) because it keeps me in shape.
Diverse|City: What message do you have for all the young dancers who look up to you?
Körbes: Remember to enjoy ballet. There are days when it can be really hard. Just always remember why we do what we do. It can be so easy to get down on yourself, on your body. One of the most important things is to not compare yourself to anyone else. I forget that sometimes, too. But whenever I get injured and have to take some time away from dance, and then come back, I’m like, ‘Oh yeah. This is it.’
Beyond Talking Points, an ongoing discussion program by Humanities Washington, examining headline issues from various perspectives and promoting shared understanding. The following event is a part of a series titled “Perspectives on (Im)Migration” and features the following topic and presenters:
- Immigrants as Job Creators: A conversation on immigration and entrepreneurship with Sailesh Chutani, Mobisante CEO and co-founder; Beto Yarce, owner of CINTLI; and Murthy Kalkura, president and CEO of 4AM Corp.; moderated by KCTS 9’s Enrique Cerna. 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 25 at Bellevue City Hall.
RSVP: Kevin Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org
As he tells it, the first time Bellevue resident Hugh Burleson II became passionate about Japan was when he landed on the country’s shores as a young G.I. during World War II. Little did he know then that he’d spend the rest of his life involved in U.S.-Japan relations. Burleson would go on to obtain a degree in Asian Studies from U.C. Berkeley, go into the foreign service, and later became an active organizer in Bellevue’s Japanese/Japanese American community. Before becoming a volunteer for the Aki Matsuri festival, he helped spearhead Bellevue’s former Japan Week. His autobiography, published in 2007 by AuthorHouse, is “The Making of a Pacific Citizen.”
Burleson heads Bellevue’s Sister Cities organization, which will hold a dinner reception, Oct. 21 at Bellevue City Hall Concourse and then a conference, Oct. 22 at Crossroads Community Center. For more information, go to http://www.bellevuesistercities.org/.
Diverse|City sat down with Burleson to discuss the culture that’s had a profound influence on his life: from his wife, and family, to his passion and activities.
Diverse|City: In the five years you were stationed in Japan, 1945-1950, you met and married your late wife, Kimie. What was she like?
HB: She was from Yokohama and grew up in the international atmosphere. She was not typical, in that she wasn’t reserved in the way many Japanese ladies are. She was outgoing and would socialize with Caucasian as well as Asian ladies. She had a great sense of humor. She loved anything from popular music to classical music. We shared interests and respect. She was just fascinating. It was a simple Christian wedding – we couldn’t afford a big, fancy Japanese wedding. Our 55-year marriage was like a 55-year seminar in Japanese culture and psychology.
Diverse|City: What struck you about the culture when you arrived in Japan in 1945?
HB: First of all, it wasn’t the culture, it was the Japanese people. During the war, we’d been so inundated with propaganda of what the Japanese were like, I almost immediately saw a sharp difference between what we had “learned” about the the Japanese during the war. We’d been told they were harsh and intense. But my very first morning in Japan, we went out to the compound where the young Japanese men were working and it was all “ohayo gozaimasu ” (good morning) and big smiles. Not the sullenness and hostility we’d expected.
Diverse|City: Now that you’ve had decades of experience with Japanese language, culture and people, what would you say you’re most passionate about?
HB: I find Japanese society and culture endlessly fascinating. The country, first of all, is very photogenic. I’ve visited there frequently and am never bored. The food is never dull. There’s a whole gamut of culture there from the visual and performing arts to the antiquity of the culture. In the past five or six years, I’ve been studying ancient Japan because I wanted to learn more about the origins of Japanese culture and how they lived thousands of years ago.
Diverse|City: Did your wife experience racial discrimination coming back to live in the U.S. in a time when anti-Japanese sentiment was widespread in parts of the country?
HB: No, because we were living in Berkeley, where I was going to school. Many college communities have far less racism then elsewhere. The only incident that came close to discrimination that my wife experienced was when our next-door neighbor, who was from Louisiana, said to her, “Kimie, do you realize you’re the only non-white person in this neighborhood?” to which Kimie came right back and said, “Oh yeah? Would you like to take me out?” and our neighbor said, “Oh no, no – we know you and we like you.”
Diverse|City: You have a Sister Cities conference coming up. What can attendees expect to see and do there?
HB: We normally have 30-35 Sister Cities organizations that attend, and speakers talking about the best way to fundraise, minimize the cost of the organizations and best practices.
Diverse|City: How would you describe Bellevue’s relationship with its sister city in Yao in Osaka?
HB: The most frequent activity is a high school student exchange. Each summer, we send a high school student to Yao for four weeks to live with a host family. In turn, they send a high school student to stay here. We have frequent communication between us and Yao, coordinating plans and activities and periodically, an exchange of citizen delegations between the cities, usually with the city mayor or city council member.
Diverse|City: How would you describe the Japanese/Japanese American community in Bellevue?
HB: It’s very diverse. There are a lot of Japanese here, and many adult Japanese Americans who are not as interested in going back to Japanese culture. Most of the interest I’ve observed in working with Eastside high schools is among the younger people, Japanese, hapa (mixed-race) as well as hakujin (white).
Diverse|City: What tips for you have for people wanting to travel to Japan for the first time?
HB: If you can afford it, allow yourself a lot of time to see the country. Four or five days is way too short. And of course, if you go, you usually go first to Tokyo which is a huge city with a street scene, to museums to everything. But then people will say, you must go see the old streets of Kyoto, and then you get there and realize you need a whole week just to see Kyoto. Also, if you have friends or relatives there, they will make the trip far more meaningful.