At the Table: East meets west (Mt. Airy)
Editor’s Note: At the Table is an international exchange program that connects high school students in Philadelphia and Riga. The program, undertaken by the National Constitution Center in collaboration with the National History Museum of Latvia, will host “Sunday Suppers” in various communities around Philadelphia and Riga simultaneously. These conversations will culminate in a student developed service project and a collaborative documentary film about civic engagement.
One student participant, Gabriel Nieto, recaps his experience at the second “Sunday Supper.”
This past Sunday we had our second “Sunday Supper” which took place in West Mount Airy at Ruby Payette’s house, who is a student involved with our project. During the luncheon with Elayne Bender from the East Mount Airy Neighborhood Association and Chelsea Bedeau from the West Mount Airy Neighborhood Association, we discussed the diversity of the Mount Airy neighborhood and how it came about. The conversation was very successful being as though we were all able to learn about the history of the area and think about various service projects we could do to help the community.
We learned that the uprising of the diversity of races, religions, and cultures was a conscious effort in order to bring everyone together as a whole. The split between east and west Mount Airy was a real estate decision to attract various types of people.
This “Sunday Supper” was different from the past one because instead of discussing a certain issue facing the community, we focused more on the positive aspects of it and on the ways we can spread them to other areas in Philadelphia. We all came to the conclusion that there are other areas that could us our help more than Mount Airy, but we can certainly apply their methods and reach out to other communities to use Mount Airy as a model.
Overall this conversation made it clear that Mount Airy is a unique and welcoming community that is known nationally for its diversity and acceptance of others. This was an interesting conversation being as though most parts of the city are segregated and no one knows exactly why or how to bring people together.
We all look forward to having more eye opening conversations like this one and are thinking on working on a service project that does not specifically focus on the Mount Airy area, but on how to spread Mount Airy’s practices and beliefs to other communities around Philadelphia.
At the Table: Connecting Culture, Conversation and Service in Latvia and the U.S. was funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with American Association of Museums. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State.