The month of March finds Eth-Noh-Tec on tour throughout the Midwest with the first stop in Kansas City followed by engagements in Indianapolis, Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbia Missouri, and off to the Sunshine State to attend the Story Camp in Orlando, Florida. Robert’s solo show started off in advance of the duet performing in over 35 shows in 25 schools and libraries. New on the stage are several new folk tales: “Tiger’s Whisker” (Korean), “How the Tiger Got His Stripes” (Vietnam), and “Double Trouble” (India).
Ever Hear of Ligonier, IN?
Over the 28 years of performing throughout the U.S. we’ve traveled to countless communities and met many an unsung heroes and heroines, people who have committed their life to bringing multicultural awareness and education to populations (both rural, suburban, and inner city) that might not otherwise get this kind of exposure. Once in awhile, a small town like Ligonier IN appears on our radar screen, and one such heroine, like Margarita White and her organization “Celebrating Diversity Program” (CDP) emerges with glowing reviews.
Great News Going on in Small Towns!
This rural community took me a good 2 hours to drive North of Indianapolis. When I arrived at the location of my first show at the morning I was greeted by the full bright smile on the brown skin face of Margarita White. Latina by ethnicity, home grown bicultural girl, raised in this predominantly white farm town amidst cornfields and grain silos. Margarita works for Celebrating Diversity Program, an agency born of the Noble County Communty Foundation and whose mission is “To celebrate Diversity by offering and supporting culturally related programs and services that enrich the lives of residents of Noble County.”
Diversity, a Dream Come True
Through this mission and with the vision of creating “A community that discourages prejudice and fear by encouraging language and communication skills, fostering economic well-being and inspiring education, lifelong learning and community involvement.” Margarita and an enthusiastic core of volunteers run such programs such as the Girl Power Program, translation and interpretation services for the Latino community, cultural competence workshops, scholarships, an Ethnic festival… AND bring artists like Eth-Noh-Tec (Me!) unto the stages in schools before hundreds of school students.
Julie Bells (seen in the green next to Margarita White) who volunteers for CDP, between shows, gave me a personal guided tour through their sweet town. She pointed out that, now after moving here twenty years ago, she really appreciates the caring and community spirit of this quiet town. Then Julie asked….
“Would you like to meet the Mayor?”
After brief introductions to Chief of Police, Bryan Shearer and the Mayor of Ligonier, Patricia Fisel- I asked for an photo moment. Mayor Fisel commented, “I have a daughter living out in the San Francisco area”… just so you know mayor, anytime you want to stop in at the Eth-Noh-Tec Studio in SF… our welcome mat is rolled out for you! (same for you Chief Shearer!)
When we walked into the local restaurant Dan’s Restaurant I was welcomed in, sat down and treated to a great lunch- afterwhich the chef himself, “Dan” came out to greet me (Dan, the only Ethiopian, probably in the whole county): “Next time you come make sure you come on a Friday night. That’s Ethiopian Food Night. I start making my Injera (Ethiopian sour doughed crepe) early in the morning!”
Here’s to Small Town USA, like Lignonier IN and the good spirit of Americans, who celebrate diversity and who care about creating communities that work for all people! To find out more about Celebrating Diversity visit: http://www.noblecounty.org/CDP/index.html