Social interaction is an essential aspect of human lives. It solidifies humanity and concretes relationships with others in society to make it a better place to live. Houston Public Library (HPL) understands Houstonians’ needs and embraces every culture that lives in the community. HPL is here not only to spread knowledge and education but also to celebrate cultural events and special days with its patrons with Living Room events. Living Room events have become HPL’s tradition for Houstonians to join and share happiness with families, friends, and neighbors and feel like they are at home.
Jungman Neighborhood Library celebrated its fifth Living Room, on March 5, 2020, to commemorate National Foreign Language Week. “Houston Speaks: From Many Languages, One Houston” was a significantly successful event, attended by more than three hundred people, including patrons, partners, friends, and neighbors, as well as guests from Kansas Library who especially came to Houston to attend the event.
To kick off the event, Jungman staff welcomed guests in seven different languages spoken in Houston. Jungman’s manager, Victor Quijano, briefed guests on our program and invited guest speaker, Rice University’s Professor, Dr. Kaplan.
Dr. Kaplan is a lecturer and author of many books in French and English. She delighted the guests by sharing her journey of learning a foreign language. She encouraged non-native English speakers not to give up, be patient, and keep learning to overcome any language barrier.
HPL, The Russian association "Kindness Without Borders" brought a joy by presenting a group of children who played a traditional Russian music with wooden-spoons and sung songs in Russian. The little ones took everyone’s heart by their cute and lovely performance.
The event reached its peak during breakout table discussions. HPL’s partner organizations decorated the tables with beautiful artifacts and objects that manifest their country’s origins. Table discussions revolved mainly around “coffee and tea in different cultures” that made it very light and joyous conversations among different cultures, allowing for guests to acquire insights of the cultures, hospitality, and lifestyles. Jungman library exhibited the true image of diversity with the support of our partners.
The Iraqi-American Society’s table beautifully displayed a full range of Middle Eastern artifacts, showpieces, a traditional tea set, and objects.
Raindrop Foundation believes sharing culture and spreading knowledge of Turkish heritage are essential aspects of a good relationship among communities. The foundation promotes education, knowledge, and social services to the community. Their table was packed with traditional Turkish artifacts, candies, and coffee.
The air was full of sweet and pleasant aroma of coffees and teas served by our partner organizations and local businesses. Cookies and candies gave a taste of the culture to all the attendees. Monicafé table shared culture and taste of Colombian coffee that guests couldn’t stop sipping during the conversation.
Owner of Ridha Alwan Coffee House set up a traditional style Iraqi camp house. They decorate the camp with traditional rugs, pillows, wall clothes, and lanterns, along with the rack of hanging traditional Iraqi costumes. The camp was the center of everyone’s attention, and many guests and library staff couldn’t resist not trying out one of these colorful costumes and sitting in the camp with a cup of tea in a traditional Iraqi way. The guests captured every moment in the eyes of cameras to share the memories with their families and friends.
The Chinese Community Center table showed the traditional style of clay cups to serve tea with.
The food tables had many traditional food items donated by local restaurants. There were Indian samosa or pakora with masala tea, Chinese dumplings, Mediterranean stuffed pocket (filled with cheese and veggie/meat), Pakistani Dahi Bara, or Durfi (dessert).
When it came time to say final goodbyes, they were warm as the welcome, and everyone said goodbye in different languages.