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Looking around at the world today, it’s undeniable that there is an urgent need for connection. As we watch division and isolation grow both locally and globally, we know that we must do something. But what? At Culture Connection AZ, we believe that by connecting people across cultures, backgrounds, and lived experiences through our programs, we can create a community that is more compassionate, informed, and interconnected.
It’s right there in our tagline - connection leads to conversation, conversation leads to compassion, and compassion leads to community.
Culture Connection AZ opened our doors at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since
our inception, we have worked tirelessly to provide programs and events designed to create meaningful connections amongst people in our community and beyond. We humbly ask for your donation this giving season so that we can continue to fulfill our mission.
Part of that mission includes facilitating conversations through connecting people, both
locally and globally, to break down stereotypes and miss held beliefs about other cultures and
people. Through our Language Exchange Program, over 60 Flagstaff residents have spoken directly with students in Mexico City over video chat, sharing each others’ languages, cultures, passions, and experiences. Emily R. said of her experience, “I love being able to talk with and make connections with a student in a different country… I get to learn so many new things about the culture and way of life in that country. By learning more about other people, you gain compassion and an understanding for different ways of life and different opinions.”
For those in our community who come to Flagstaff from outside the United States, it can be particularly challenging to find connections. Through initiatives such as our Culture Kitchen and Fun With A Local programs and our Welcome To Flagstaff annual event, we help these folks connect with locals in a fun and meaningful way. As one Welcome to Flagstaff attendee explained ““I actually met two people - one from China and another from Italy - and we had a really good discussion… I felt I can really be friends with them. And it's kind of lonely when you come in as an international student, so for sure I found this valuable. And for local people in Arizona, I hope they enjoy having discussions with us and learning about foreign cultures - I know I would have loved events like this if they happened back home.”
Perhaps in no other arena is culture quite so eloquently articulated than in the arts. Through our ArtWalk at the Ice House program, pop up markets, and exhibitions such as Synergy, Faces of Flagstaff, and Surrender: Quarantine Questions | Pandemic Wisdom, we have created a space where artists from all walks of life can display and sell their work in a safe, supportive, and accessible environment. To date we have hosted over 120 different artists, primarily based in Flagstaff, Hopi, and the Navajo Nation. By not charging artists a commission, we provide an uncommon opportunity to participate in the Flagstaff art scene regardless of an individual’s socioeconomic status. Many artists have shared with us that they would not have been able to participate in these events without this affordability built in, and we are proud to say we have had a significant number of artists display their art to the public for the first time ever with us. As one artist put it, “I meet new artists each time I participate. The last event I met a young Native American artist and an emerging artist that had been a teacher like me. I always learn new things from fellow artists regarding art forms and experiences.”
At Culture Connection AZ, we believe that by lifting and amplifying voices that historically have been silenced, we can hear their important messages and foster a community based on equality, respect, and kindness for all peoples. At this year’s Third Annual Indigenous Community Connection Fair, participants had the opportunity to hear directly from Indigenous people in our community. Attendees learned about Indigenous foods, stories, languages, history, and more. Our own Board Co-President, Somana Tootsie, led a fascinating demonstration on traditional Hopi foods - with some interesting samples including sumac lemonade and some tasty insects!
We at Culture Connection AZ are dedicated to providing community-led programs, events, and projects that further awareness and understanding of cultures in order to create a more informed, caring, and interconnected community. Through our programming, we provide opportunities, resources, and space for independent scholars, educators, creators, and researchers, as well as community organizations. We actively encourage those looking for space to carry out this work to get in touch with us to find out how we can work together.
Now more than ever there is an urgent need for connection, compassion and understanding amongst humanity. We’re working diligently every day to address this need, but we need your help. Your donation will allow us to continue providing these invaluable, much-needed programs and events.