The diversity dinner concept has become very popular over the years. Nowadays, high schools, universities, organizations, and faith communities host them regularly. The format can vary widely. Besides a meal, they might include dancing and/or dialogues. There’s even an international social cohesion project using the model. But across all these different formats, the central idea behind the diversity dinner is always the same—consistently interacting with and building relationships with people who are very different from us is key to creating a culture of equity and justice.
On Tuesday, November 13, IMPACT co-hosted its thirteenth Diversity Dinner in Long Branch. We’ve had the honor of partnering on these dinners with friends from Clifton Park Baptist Church (CPBC) and Takoma Park Mobilization since 2017! Shoutout to IMPACT Network Builders Sara Mussie, Oneyda Hernandez, and Ruby Machado for their outreach and organizing of these events. This most recent dinner had an impressive turnout with 48 diverse community members participating.
Attendee Fantish Mulat commented that “the opportunity to try food from different countries” was a major factor in her participation. The dinner, held at CPBC, was a potluck that featured a dazzling array of international foods representing attendees’ cultures. Among the goodies to be found on the buffet table were a jalapeno cheddar frittata, vegetarian chili, cheese and beans pupusas, beef tibs with injera, and an Ethiopian spiced tea to wash it all down.
Dinner guests hailed from various parts of the Long Branch and Takoma Park communities and represented renters and homeowners alike. Some guests were beneficiaries of the services offered at CPBC which is home to the county’s Silver Spring Service Consolidation Hub. Many of the guests were simply curious neighbors like Colleen Cords who shared that she came because “it seemed like it would be a fun community event.”
In addition to a lively ice breaker, food and conversation, participants were serenaded by community members Torcuato Zamora on guitar and Bernardina Reyes on vocals performing traditional Spanish tunes.
IMPACT and our partners will continue to host these grassroots gatherings as important spaces where people from different backgrounds can increase understanding of one another, appreciate commonalities and differences, and strengthen ties as neighbors, all over a delicious meal. We love the words of dinner guest Vernon Hammett who shared, “I see people from different backgrounds all the time, but [the Diversity Dinner] is an opportunity to sit down and break bread with them.”
Many thanks to Clifton Park Baptist Church for hosting the Diversity Dinner for the past 6 years!