Lima shows off its diversity

April 6, 2008

LIMA — Standing behind a table full of books, artifacts and jewelry based on modern and ancient Egyptian culture, Maha Zehery — who grew up in Alexandria, Egypt — said there’s one question that folks always seem to ask her about her homeland.“They ask how do we know which camel is ours in a parking lot,” she said. Then a smile crossed Zehery’s face. “And I tell them we have license plates on them,” Zehery said, laughing. Zehery represented just one of the various and diverse cultures from around the globe, which converged at a local elementary school Sunday, showcasing exotic jewelry, music, clothing, food and other displays representing nearly 10 different nations.To educate Lima residents about the range of cultures within this region, the Lima-Allen County Neighborhoods in Partnership held its second annual Cultural Appreciation Day at Liberty Elementary School.Event coordinator Connie Hornung said this year’s event once again called upon people who are originally from other nations but who now work and live in the Lima area to set up displays about their homeland. Only four nations were represented last year, but this year, nine countries had displays in the school cafeteria. More than doubling last year’s numbers is respectable, but Hornung said she believes the event still has more potential. “We’re trying to get the word out and get this program larger so we can rent out booth spaces for these nations because people really have a wonderful time here,” Hornung said.The nations of Egypt, India, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Scotland, Laos and Ukraine each had displays set up as two Lima Central Catholic dance groups — the Lima Deutsches Tanz Verein and French-Italian Club Dancers — performed different numbers for those in attendance. At one interactive table, children worked on making African rainsticks and drums while at other tables people learned how to write their names in Arabic, Japanese calligraphy and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. While dressed in her traditional buckskin, Kim Kennedy, an Ojibwa/Chippewa, gave presentations throughout the day on her tribe in North Dakota. As a kimono-style show took place on the stage, Lima’s Mike Schoenhofer labled his experience at the LACNIP event as “eye-opening.”“I’m surprised at how many different cultures are represented in Allen County,” he said. “You know about African-American and Hispanic, but you don’t really think about Philippino and Indian and others like that.”