Taste Around the World

In early 2020, Catholic Charities Diocese of Pueblo, Colo., launched Taste Around the World, a volunteer driven community event that became an annual celebration of newcomers sharing their culture and traditions through food, drinks, and dances with their long-standing neighbors. Three years prior to the launch of the Taste Around the World, the CLINIC affiliate was on a mission to learn about the intersection between immigrant integration and immigration legal services as they worked to create a community that was welcoming and inclusive.

Catholic Charities of Pueblo utilized CLINIC’s three integration surveys to gather the perspective of clients, community members and agency staff around immigrant integration in the community. The data shared that community members — both newcomers and long-standing residents — wanted more opportunities to engage with one another. While Catholic Charities would host various opportunities to bring the community together, it became evident that while newcomers attended, they still held back from engaging. “We needed to create an event where newcomers would be the leaders [of the event] and feel empowered,” said Fikile Ryder, Immigration Program Coordinator and DOJ Immigration Counselor at Catholic Charities of Pueblo. This led to the Taste Around the World, where newcomers lead and taught others in the community about their home countries, traditions and cultures. The event was a great success, bringing over 60 community members and positive feedback. Catholic Charities even had multiple requests to host the event again.

Unfortunately, 2021 saw the pandemic still keeping most people at home, and Catholic Charities of Pueblo was not able to host the Taste Around the World event in person. Instead, the team got creative and decided to host it virtually. Every day during the month of November, Catholic Charities of Pueblo used Facebook to share a video of a member from the community cooking a dish from their home country, dancing or sharing their culture. This year, 21 participants filmed themselves preparing dishes, such as arepas, tacacho, Cambodian fried fish, papa a la huancaina y budin, umbhida, and chicken ala motor masala, just to name a few. Other participants shared how they celebrated Día de los Muertos, and one group filmed a folkloric dance from Nuevo León State. Countries represented include, Mexico, Colombia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Italy and Zimbabwe, among others. During the virtual event, everyone had a role to play  ESL students and tutors, members of the receiving community, first generation immigrants, several Catholic Charities staff, and even fifth generation immigrants.

Through this event, the immigrant community has felt empowered, “[they are] able to say I am here, and I am part of this community,” said Guadalupe Hernandez-Saenz, community organizer at Catholic Charities Diocese of Pueblo. Now she realizes that those participating were hesitant to participate at first but overcame their fear and were happy to do it once they realized others were participating as well. One participant shared, “I feel so grateful with your program for helping me get ahead in life, for taking ‘me’ into consideration to be part of this event to highlight my culture, but most of all for making me feel that I am part of this community and [recognizing] my presence.”

CLINIC applauds Catholic Charities Diocese of Pueblo for their ongoing efforts to promote immigrant integration in the community. Share with us how your community is pursing integration in your organization or community.