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September 25, 2011

International Flair

I love our town. We moved here eight years ago with my job, having no other ties, but it sure does feel like "home". A big part of the draw for me is that it's a small town -- just over 60,000 people -- yet we have quite a bit of diversity.

Our town is small enough that it's easy to get to know your neighbors, the shop owners, and the nice lady who stocks produce at the grocery store. I think that creates an awesome sense of community, particularly for the girls.

But in those 60,000 people, over 10% of them are recent immigrants. We have a Hispanic population and a large number of people from former Yugoslavia and some of the former Soviet republics. Over the past couple of years, we've started to see more people from Southeast Asia -- namely Burma -- and from several African countries.

Every September our town holds an International Festival, and we always go. It's so much fun to see so many different countries represented, many people wearing native dress. There are many different foods to try, and music permeates downtown.

Teaching ESL, it's always nice for my husband to see a lot of his students and their families, too.

The girls had such a great time at the festival this year. Our first stop was Greek belly dancing. You can't quite tell it from the picture, but the girls were definitely feeling the spirit and moving right along to the sounds of the music!
We then tested out the bongos...

And after a lunch of gyros, punctuated by baklava (and some grapes I brought from home), we ran into a couple of Daddy's students, from Cuba, who tried to teach the girls some new moves.

As we were closing out our time at the festival, I was can take the girls out of Kentucky, but you can't take the Kentucky out of the girls. Here they are, checking out the fallen leaves. :)

After a well-deserved nap, we had plans to hang out with Aunt Shanda for a bit. I figured we'd hit the bookstore, or maybe walk around the mall...but spur of the moment, and in keeping with the international theme of the day, we headed back downtown and decided to share some appetizers at the Thai restaurant.

The girls got their first taste of tofu. And they were so excited to have a fresh spring roll, which they kept calling "sushi".

We've known Miss Sonny for several years. She used to be the sushi chef at our favorite Japanese restaurant, and she now owns the Thai restaurant. We ran into her at the festival earlier in the day, where she wanted a picture of the girls. She came out to see us off, and I asked if she'd pose for a picture with my camera.

Certainly there's no place like home...but I love that it's so easy to "travel" right here in our own backyard.


Charlene said...

Looks like such a fun day!!

Andrea said...

I love these posts that you share so many pictures!! Your girls are so very sweet!! I know I say it all the time, but I could just eat them up!! Love that you ran into some of hubby students! How fun! I am sure they got a kick out of meeting the girls! Plus I am sure daddy loved showing them off!! I am closing this comment with a smile on my face! Your family is gorgeous!

Julia said...

Great pictures, Mandy! Our area sounds pretty similar to yours with regards to demographics. I, too, love introducing our girls to lots of culture. Good to learn that different can be celebrated, rather than something to turn noses up at or be afraid of. Never too early to start! :)

The mention of baklava made my mouth water. :)

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

What a great day...I love local things...and festivals...and running into students!