Bridging Cultures & Building Community
For us, it's more than a catchphrase. When immigrants and refugees arrive in America, they often have a hard time finding their circle. They have a hard time connecting with other immigrants or refugees, and often an even harder time connecting to the social web of their adopted homes.
Chattanooga and the Tennessee Valley have so much to offer these folks, but these men, women, and children have a lot to offer to our area as well. We set out to connect locals—those who have been here their whole lives and those who got here yesterday—across cultural and language backgrounds to weave these disparate strands into one community tapestry.
Turning a Vision into Reality
Though my father was born in Cuba, I was an adult before I was able to travel to Cuba and spend time living with and like my Cuban family. It was like going home, but to a home you didn't know you were missing. As a teacher, I have tried to explain the intricacies of global cultures to my students, but I have learned that no lesson is more effective or evocative than experience. When we experience the array of cultures, languages, and cuisines that are all around us, we can understand the reality that is our global community, expressed locally.
Making Dreams Come True
When I first arrived in Chattanooga from Brazil, some of the greatest difficulties I faced were meeting new people, learning the culture of my new home, and finding help in navigating the challenges a new place—and a new language—presented. I love that I get to turn those challenges into helping people in the same situation, sharing Chattanooga with them, and helping to share their cultures with Chattanoogans. I am proud to be involved at the ground level, helping people in a hands-on way.
An International Community in my Hometown
For me, Culture Chatt is about community and advocacy. I have experienced world culture on trips to France, Costa Rica, Denmark, Greece, Cuba, Turkey, and more, and in my own family I have a breadth of cultural backgrounds including Cuban, Karuk (Native American), Eastern European (Ukrainian) Jewish, and American Southern. Seeing that my own hometown can contain a world's worth of culture and cultural experience makes me so happy, and working to ensure that immigrants to the Tennessee Valley can share their cultures and take advantage of the many opportunities available to them through our community partners is incredibly fulfilling.