Twice in two weeks I’ve been incredibly jealous when reading of projects or ventures of friends or colleagues. But, if ‘birds of a feather flock together,” I’m glad to be in the same group as these birds. It’s one thing to talk about multiculturalism, another to create businesses and projects that allow people to live it.
Here are a few things going on in Chicago (and one that’s across the country). All offer specific calls to action and opportunities, events, courses and more for intercultural learning for all ages:
When I met Jill a year or so ago she was just “Workforce Language Services,” providing expert translation in all languages, and site/job specific language training (like for a restaurant—understanding the difference between a pinch, a smidge and a gob when someone is asking for sour cream on a burrito).
Per her most recent newsletter, she’s grown into “Multilingual Chicago,” now offering all kinds of intercultural interaction and learning, from language classes, weekend language boot camps, Spanish story-time for kids, country specific wine-tastings, and more, covering Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, Arabic and more.
Marcelo is one of the nicest people you could ever meet, and he’s a great teacher! Brazil in Chicago offers Brazilian language and culture courses, plus he’s expanded to offer programs for kids (e.g. like mine—US mom, Brazilian dad, living in the US…he’ll need classes to fully speak Portuguese, even if he understands it), plus English for Portuguese speakers, and Portuguese for Spanish speakers.
He includes a real social aspect to the learning experience, with outings to Portuguese movies, or great parties at the School (it’s important to taste caipirinha’s to appreciate Brazilian culture). He also takes it upon himself to send out a monthly newsletter with everything Brazilian happening in Chicago.
As it says on their website,
By harnessing the power of our nation’s diversity, One Chicago, One Nation unites people of all cultures, faiths, and social backgrounds to build communities for the common good through: digital storytelling, community conversations, leadership development and innovative philanthropy.
One Nation, a philanthropic collaborative, has partnered with The Chicago Community Trust, Link TV, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) to develop in Chicago a nationally replicable civic engagement initiative that brings together diverse local communities to work with common purpose for the common good to uphold America’s promise of liberty and justice for all.
But I like it 1.) because anyone can sign up to be a community ambassador or participate in a variety of ways, and 2.) it’s being planned by my mentor and good friend, Laurie at Think, Inc. Stragegy and Think Art Salon. What a great project…Go Laurie!
Started as a person to person diplomacy effort to parallel the work of the State Department in the 1960’s, Partners of the Americas now is one of the largest not-for-profit volunteer organizations in the world. States in the US have partner relationships with states, countries and territories in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Projects include University Linkages, sustainable architecture, Youth Ambassadors, and more, based on the goals of the two partnered chaptered. Chapters have sent ambulences to their counterparts, raised money in times of crises, painted murals in rural areas, and explored developing green energy solutions.
For me in Illinois, we are partnered with Sao Paulo Brazil (our annual meeting is this Saturday, 2/27—please send me a note if you’d like details to attend!). We’ve done fantastic music exchanges, sent a muralist to work in a rural community in Sao Paulo state, had the director of a Rehabilitation center come to Chicago to share best practices, and in March we are co-hosting with our colleagues in Sao Paulo a conference to create a sustainable City plan with government officials in Paranapiacaba, Brasil.
What are you up to? What’s going on in your neck of the woods? How are you converting ideas into action, and creating opportunities for others along the way?