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Cultural diversity abounds at inaugural celebration


The Village of Northbrook came together as one heart and one world to celebrate their similarities and differences. From Russians and Nigerians to Persians and Assyrians, a wide breadth of diversity took center stage during the Northbrook Community Relations Commission’s inaugural Celebration of Cultures event on Sunday, April 17.

Rochelle Singer, co-chairwoman for the event and a commissioner for the Northbrook Community Relations Commission, said they were expecting a nice turnout for the festivities, and were excited about the launch of the celebration.

“In the past, we always had two events,” she said. “We have an Asian event during Asian Week and we had a Black History Month event during February, Black History month,” she said. “This time we decided to do something different and combine and expand. We wanted to show the cultural diversity here in Northbrook and our neighboring communities.”

Some of the main highlights that afternoon included live group dance performances, a tango demonstration, cuisine representing the many cultures of the world and henna hand painting.

Ihechi Alilionwu, a dancer for a Chicago-based cultural dance group, was one of many performers showcasing a taste of what Nigeria offers.

“It’s really nice to see different cultures and different cultures being represented,” she said. “You don’t see that a lot and this is like the suburbs. Usually, you see more of this in the city and Chicago.”

She said it was nice getting up, being able to perform and see the crowd’s reaction.

“When people think about African dancers, you see they have a specific vision of what African dance looks like,” she said. “I think this showed a different version of what people might think of. When people look at African dances, they look at South African dances. You know that type of (thing). But, this is more of West African (dance). We’re more like hip and more sultry.”

Likit Klingosum, of Riverside, Calif., was watching some of the performers showcase their cultural dances. In learning about the event through a flyer, he said it sounded interesting and so far, he was enjoying his time spent there.

“It’s a surprise for me because I thought ‘OK, not so [much] diversity,’” he said. “But, now that I know there are people of different cultures coming here and to get them to participate and kind of show their culture, that is kind of cool, especially with all the dancing.”

Klingosum said the event does a good job of bringing the community together to experience the best that other cultures can offer.

“I think it’s a good start you know just to bring the awareness that there are other people of cultures living here,” he said. “From what I can (tell), the people here are open and they’re friendly and seem to be interested in what is here.”

Dalia Zaghal, of Northbrook, was one of many other people in attendance. She was trying the Asian noodles made available at one of the booths. Zaghal said she liked the food, and was excited about how everyone came together for the event.

“It’s great to see how like diverse people are in Northbrook, how many different foods. You know see how much culture is really a part of our town,” she said.

Singer said the hope is the event provides people with an opportunity for greater exposure to other cultures, allowing them to learn about their neighbors and how diverse they are as a community, and maybe taste something they’ve never tasted before.

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