By: Jorlinis Centeno, CA DCSS
The California Department of Child Support Services (CA DCSS) celebrates Multicultural Day to share, enjoy and learn from all the different cultures that are part of our community. This year’s celebration was held on Tuesday, July 11th, and the excitement from the participants was contagious as attendees learned to appreciate each other’s cultures through delicious food, wonderful music, pictures, fun facts, and fascinating performances.
The team representing Mexico served delicious salsas, guacamole, and beef and chicken tacos in front of a backdrop with bright colors and stunning flowers, traditional costumes for selfie opportunities and a raffle for one lucky staffer to win a candy-filled piñata. India’s representatives educated everyone on the many differences among the regional traditions: most of the participants at CA DCSS hail from North India and brought rice-based dishes with vegetables and lemons, milk-based desserts and nuts. Their photo booth pointed out the very high number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in this fascinating and ancient country.
This year, the team representing Africa included a focus on the African migration into Caribbean countries like Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, as well as showcasing continental African countries Morocco, Guyana and Guam. They mixed their traditional African foods such as rice, black eyed peas, candied yams and greens with delicious Cuban and Jamaican offerings. Pamela Liu, representing China, drew a lot of attention as she taught Chinese calligraphy and its meaning to the fascinated attendees, letting people try their hand with brushes and dry ink that came originally from China.
Dana Simas represented Portugal, flying Portugal’s flag, offering historical tidbits (did you know Portugal is the oldest country in Europe, because its borders haven’t changed since 1137 AD?), photography of the varied geography of the country that she took when she traveled there with her nephew (also Portuguese) for his 13th birthday. She cooked a Portuguese chorizo and fava bean stew made from her grandmother’s recipe. Hollie Gajewski at the Cajun booth presented a bit of the history of the Acadian people, a group of French Canadians expelled from Canada for political reasons during the late 18th century that eventually settled in Louisiana. Since Louisiana was owned by both France and Spain, Cajun cuisine is an exciting combination of both traditions.
Like Portugal and the Cajuns, South Korea and the Philippines were new additions to this year’s Multicultural Day. In both booths, CA DCSS staffers handed out delicious traditional sweets and treats like “Halo-Halo,” a popular Filipino dessert made with milk, boiled sweet beans, coconut and jelly.
The event concluded with performances of songs and dances from Africa, India, China and Mexico, and two performances on traditional instruments: tabla drums from the Indian subcontinent, and “guzheng”, a large stringed instrument from China. CA DCSS’ new Director, David Kilgore, and Chief Deputy Director Mark Beckley arrived to congratulate all the cultural teams on a great job creating an event that was fun, educational and delicious. Each culture has its own essence, and the way participants and guests celebrated each moment at Multicultural Day demonstrates the value and importance of the diverse community at CA DCSS.