Bob Persiko and I were brainstorming a few months ago and trying to put together the fall luncheon for Global Connections, a local non-profit in Centre County. We looked at each other and immediately realized we could make an event for which both of us share the same roots, the Lebanese influence of our ancestors.
So, we divided the work. He committed to prepare baked quibbe and "mdardara" (lentil rice topped with fried onions). I committed to prepare fattayer (a baked goodie filled with spinach or meat), marmaon (a risotto kind of rice with chickpeas and chicken, warak arish (dolmades), hummus, baba ghanoush, fattoush (salad), tabbuli (salad), and labneh (yogurt), rice pudding, and baklava.
We planned for everything we needed, including groceries. But we knew we had to start the preparation of our dishes the day before. Lebanese food is laborious to prepare although the results make the hours in the kitchen worth it.
We put together a powerpoint based on fun, historical, and current facts of Lebanon. In addition, we talked about how our relatives ended up in Colombia and the United States, and what they did for a living after emigration.
After spending a summer immersed in the Lebanese language and culture, and learning from my aunts and grandparents the traditions that kept their generous behavior intact, it was really easy for me to talk about my ancestors and our ways of living in today’s world.
Almost 100 people were in the audience. Everyone was listening to us in an invested fashion. Moreover, a few of my friends from State College and relatives from Colombia were part of our luncheon and many questions were part of the discussion. When I got home, the subject continued indefinitely between my father, sister, and me.
I am part of the executive committee of Global Connections. I do it because the members of Global Connections work hard to integrate the international community with the locals in Centre County. Global Connections educates the community about other cultures and promotes diversity and inclusion which translates into a safe community.
Our next luncheon is Mesopotamia. It will be on January 15th, 2020 at noon, at the Mount Nittany Methodist Church in Lemont. We hope to see you there.