‘Taste of Nations’ comes to Division Midway

INCLUDES VIDEO VIGNETTE Discover how well-accepted this scaled-down version of the ‘Festival of Nations’ was by folks in outer East Portland …

In the Mill Park neighborhood, just as it opens, folks start arriving at the Division Midway Alliance-hosted “Taste of Nations” celebration.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Over the years, people from all over the area have looked forward to the “signature event” produced by the Division Midway Alliance (DMA) Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative district – the “Festival of Nations”.

This colorful outdoor event celebrates the many cultures who live and work in outer East Portland; and especially those along the SE Division Street corridor.

> To see the lively the 2019 Festival of Nations celebration, CLICK HERE.

Welcoming attendees is DMA Executive Director Lisha Shrestha.

However, due the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the DMA didn’t present it in 2020. But, a scaled-down version of the festival returned this year on July 25, between noon and 2:00 p.m., in the DMA’s parking lot.

“We were all so sad last year because we couldn’t do this,” remarked DMA Executive Director Lisha Shrestha to East Portland News at this year’s festival. “But, I am very passionate about organizing this kind of event – as are all of us associated with our district. That’s why we’re holding this mini version of the festival this year.”

Offering multi-ethnic lunches to guests are David Douglas High School students Nhu Ho, Dania Khalid, and Kim Quang Nguyen.

“We’re calling this the ‘Taste of Nations’! During the festival, we’ll distribute free food prepared by our four community chefs – from Latinx, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Burmese communities – and packaged for safe handling,” Shrestha pointed out.

DMA partnered with Mill Park Elementary School to distribute hundreds of free books. TOURS, a nonprofit which teaches English as a second language, was there to tell about their program. And, Bureaus from the City of Portland were on hand to provide information to guests.

Distributing free books, and representing Mill Park Avenue Elementary School, is Teaching Assistant Kerri Dempsey.

Want to learn a new language?Language Fair” instructors Ramin Tokhi, Suan Dinh, and Andrea Quidero are here to help!

In all, about 500 people came to a festival put on by 35 volunteers; and they distributed all 400 of the food boxes to those who came.

After it was over, Shrestha reflected on it. “I think the best thing about this is that it brought people together from different facets of life. It’s been a special event for DMA because we organized this after a year of pandemic.

“I see hope, love, smiles, and care for each other,” Shrestha continued. “The concept of bringing together food from four different cultures, and sharing it with the community, was appreciated by all.

“This shows how even a smaller celebration can bring us a little closer and appreciate each other’s cultural identity,” observed Shrestha. “Personally, I feel this helped the diverse families of outer East Portland feel that they belong in this community.”

Distributing free fresh vegetables are Centennial High School recent graduate Prabina Sunuwar and current Centennial student, Nay Aye.

What’s next for the DMA? Shrestha said they’re working to organize a farmer’s market in the fall. When they do, you’ll find it listed in our Community Calendar.

To find out more about the Division Midway Alliance, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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