Laos

Laos is an independent republic, about the size of Kansas, and the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. At the heart of the Indochinese Peninsula, Laos is bordered by Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. Laos is a nature lovers paradise with beautiful, lush jungles, winding rivers, and rolling hills that offer amazing hiking and exploring opportunities. If history is more your things, Laos contains a variety of world heritage sites such as the town of Luang Prabang, the gorgeous temple complex of Wat Phou, and the Plain of Jars. Over 1,500 Laotians call Kansas City home, and they bring with them a distinct Lao culture and cuisine.

Fast Facts:

  • Laotians consume more sticky rice than anyone else in the world
  • Coffee is Laos’ biggest agricultural export 
  • The oldest modern human fossil in Southeast Asia was found in Laos 
  • All silk products are handwoven in Laos
  • Laos is known as the ‘Land of a million elephants’

Cuisine:

Lao cuisine is unique in that the meals almost always include a large quantity of fresh raw greens, vegetables and herbs served undressed on the side. Another is that savory dishes are never sweet. “Sweet and sour” is generally considered bizarre and foreign in Laos. Most common dishes include: 

  • Sticky rice
  • Minced meat salad 
  • Green papaya salad 
  • Steamed fish
  • Baguette pate
  • Wet noodles
  • Crispy rice salad
  • Lao sausages 
  • Lao beer 

Laotian restaurants are not super common in Kansas City, but walk in to Anousone or find Sticky Rice on Wheels around the city for a taste of Lao food. 

Culture and Arts: 

Theravada Buddhism is the dominant religion practiced in Laos. Just a little over half of the population practices it. Theravada practices claim to adhere most closely to the original doctrines and practices taught by the Buddha.

Art in Laos, including music, dance, literature, and visual art, are also heavily influenced by Theravada Buddhism and the Hindu epics. Laotian art is particularly known for the Buddha’s Calling for the Rain posture, in which the Buddha stands with his arms at his sides and fingers pointing downward. This posture is unique to Laotian art and is not found in other Buddhist traditions.

Outside of traditional religious artistic influences, Lao art has more recently been influenced by the traditions of its neighbors, particularly through Thai mass media, with unique local interpretations. The different regions of Laos are also known for their own artistic traditions, including weaving, wood and ivory carving, and silverwork and goldwork.

The Laotian national instrument is the khène. It’s typically an eighty-centimeter-long mouth organ constructed of seven or eight pairs of bamboo pipes that are connected with a small, hollowed-out hardwood reservoir into which air is blown. Laos is also known for its vocal music and dance styles, which often tell stories and are passed down through oral traditions.

Sports:

Besides the normalized international sports, they also play these three select sports.

  • Sepak Takraw (known as Te Ka Tor): Also called kick volleyball, is a team sport played with a rattan between two teams of two to four players on a court resembling a badminton court. 
  • Pétanque: A sport that falls into the category of boules sports, along with raffa, bocce, boule lyonnaise, lawn bowls, and crown green bowling.
  • Wushu: A hard and soft and complete martial art, as well as a full-contact sport. It has a long history in reference to Chinese martial art

Norway

Norway is a country located in Northern Europe, better known for its cultural region Scandinavia. It’s bordered by Sweden and the Norwegian Sea. Norway is known for its scenic natural beauty, including towering glaciers and deep fords. Norway has many different connections to Kansas City, mostly through different aspects of Scandinavian Culture. This includes the Scandinavian Association of Kansas City and Scandinavian Folk dancers. 

Scandinavia Association of KCThis organization is a great place to find information on the Scandinavian culture in KC and the website also provides information on Scandinavian events happening in Kansas City. 

Scandinavian Folk Dancers -This Facebook page allows for contact with traditional folk dancers. 

Fast Facts:  

-Norway has a volcano located on the island Jan Mayen in the Norwegian Sea 

-Norway spelled in Norwegian is Norge/Noreg 

-98% of Norway’s homes are powered by hydroelectric power plants 

-Norway supplies London with a Christmas tree every year 

-Winter sports are the most dominant sports in Norway

Cuisine:

Norwegian cooking techniques in the past were used to survive long and harsh winters. Local game, fish, or berries tends to be the main area of focus. These techniques and additives are still used in food preparation today. 

3 common dishes you can find in Norwegian cuisine include: 

  • Fenalår, which is cured lamb’s leg. Lamb is an integral part of Norway’s ecosystem and therefore the cuisine. Smalahove, or sheep’s head, is considered a delicacy
  • Brunost, better known as brown cheese. This is a very famous traditional Norwegian cheese made from cow or goat’s milk. It is caramelized and has a composition similar to that of fudge. It is usually eaten on high-quality bread or Norwegian waffles. The cheese does not often appeal to foreigners but has a very unique taste.
  • Boller, also known as Norwegian sweet buns. These are very fluffy and sweet and are sold in bakeries, cafes, and shops. The dough is made from flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, salt, butter, milk, and yeast. Simple ingredients like raisins, berries, or vanilla custard can be added. 

Norwegian restaurants aren’t as common in KC but the cultural region of Scandinavia has more options. 

Culture and Arts:

Norway has an extensive, rich, culture in art. Through contemporary and traditional artwork, sculpting, and Architecture. It is home to some of the most iconic artists in the world. A few examples include:  

  • Edvard Munch 
  • Hans Gude

Art really took root in the 19th century, when painters started expressing the beautiful culture of Norway through art. Art can be seen throughout Norway in street art, museums, and installation pieces in public parks and places. Not only does Norway have physical art, but Norway has also made a couple of popular movies, such as The Scream. 

 

Tajikistan

Never heard of Tajikistan? Now you have! This small post-Soviet, Persian-speaking country has ties in KC!

Fast Facts: Tajikistan

  • The country’s population is almost 9 million but the population of ethnic Tajiks is 20-25 million. In fact, there are around 4 million more ethnic Tajiks in Afghanistan than in Tajikistan and Tajiks are the majority in Uzbek cities of Bukhara and Samarkand.
  • Tajiks are living history! Tajikistan harkens to the Samanid Empire (875–999 A.D.). However, long before that, they were part of ancient Persia’s Achaemenid Empire until it was subdued by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C. followed by conquests of Islamic Arabs. Later on, there were invasions by Mongols (first centuries A.D.), Turkic rulers (9th-16th centuries), Iran (18th century), USSR (1860s-1991), and alas independence — although the Tajik people’s history cannot be limited to today’s borders.
  • The area of today’s Tajikistan is slightly smaller than the state of Wisconsin.
  • The language is Tajik (Тоҷик). This is a sister of Dari (spoken in Afghanistan) and Farsi (Iranian Persian). These three languages are descendants of the ancient Persian language.
  • At least 1 in 5 men work abroad, and over half of the country’s GDP are remittances.
  • The round hand drum, called the daf or dap, is used in popular and classical music. The earliest evidence of the daf dates back to Sassanid empire (224 AD) although some paintings depict a daf before the Common Era.
  • Tajikistan is the origin of tulips. The wild tulip diversity is vast compared to anywhere else in the world.
  • Tajikistan has one of the greatest potentials for hydroelectric power in the world due to the abundance of snow-capped mountains and glaciers.
  • For more info, watch this lesson on Tajikistan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS6i0U5ycKA

Tajik-Americans

There are 50,000-60,000 Tajiks in the U.S. While most Tajiks reside in NY, CA, and NE, there are a handful of families in the Kansas City area. Most Tajiks emigrate to the U.S. to work or study. In January 2021, Bahrom Boltaev founded the Tajik American Association of Kansas whose goal is to unite the Tajik diaspora in the Midwest and to celebrate their culture. To contact him, please message him through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/bahrom.boltaev/).

 

Armenia

Armenia

Armenia is a landlocked country located in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia. Kansas City has prominent ties to the Armenian culture mostly through faith-based institutions, community groups, and military partnerships.

The KC Armenian Church has many videos explaining how services work, along with easily accessible ways to reach out and contact them for more information. The Armenians KC Facebook page has multitudes of information about events hosted in Kansas City. They also further include news about the Armenian culture and community here in KC. 

The Kansas-Armenia State Partnership Program has been around since 2003. It happens twice a year, in January and July to communicate with the Armenian government and agencies. They do this to learn about different aspects of their services and further explain each other government styles. Since 2008, the program continues to expand the military-to-military relationships with several civic engagement initiatives. 

Fast Facts

  • Home to the oldest winery 
  • 1.5 million people died in the Armenian Genocide
  • It has the longest non-stop double track cable car is the Tatev Aerial Tramway, which clocks in at 5,752 m (18,871ft) long. 
  • Chess is a required class in Armenia 

Food and Drink

There aren’t any particular Armenian restaurants in Kansas City, but we do have a few options if you’re looking for that Middle East influence. 

  • Clay & Fire located in the West Side Neighborhood is a great option. 
  • Habashi House located in the Historic City Market is another as well. 

Several websites have great Armenian meals you can make at home! These include dolma, lavash, topik, etc. These recipes make for great dinner or lunch options. Armenian cuisine is more based on fresh ingredients instead of the exclusive use of spices. They also use several cooking techniques that have spanned 1500 years, which still influence the cuisine.

Culture and Arts

The impacts of Armenia’s tragic and war-torn history can be seen throughout many elements of Armenian culture today. Because of this, independence and war is a common motif found in many aspects of their culture.

  • The Armenian flag has three colors, those being red, blue, and orange. Red for Armenian bloodshed, blue for the unchanging land, and orange for courage. 
  • It was the first country to adopt Christianity and about 97% of all Armenians are Christian.
  •  The architecture typically seen in Armenia is very grand and smooth. Common characteristics are tall, sturdy, brick buildings with pointed domes. 

Armenian art tends to be very realistic and war-like scenes, allowing for them to express their culture through pictures, specifically focusing on the past. This Armenian Art Website is a great place to look if you’re wanting to purchase and support Armenian artists. 

Germany

In the early 1800s, around 120,000 Germans crossed the Atlantic Ocean and more than 40,000 of those settled in Missouri. Even in 2020, Germans are still the largest ethnic group in America. In fact, 22% of the Kansas City area population is German!

  • It’s said that the book – A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America – was responsible for inspiring thousands of Germans to immigrate to the US! It was described as a country where “the sun of Freedom shines”.

  • Did you know that in some small cities in Missouri you can still hear German dialects? In the last few years, however, they have become endangered and are at risk of disappearing. You can learn more about this subject in the podcast: “A People’s History City – How to save a dying language?”
  • Global Ties KC has hosted a number of German program participants in the last few years, including government and business leaders from across the country. Look for information on these alumni through our social media channels over the next week

German Unity Day

On October 3rd, Germany celebrates the anniversary of German reunification. In 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic were unified, ending the division of Germany – a division that was a consequence of Germany’s defeat in World War II, splitting German territory – and the rest of the world – into two ideological blocs: Western Allies (capitalism) and Soviets (socialism). This day was foreshadowed with the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th, 1989, which started the fall of communism in eastern and central Europe!

  • Set in 1989, the film Good Bye, Lenin! tells the story of a young boy who, in nearly losing his mom (an untiring supporter of the communist regime) from a heart attack, decides to keep his mother from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany has disappeared.

  • How did this whole East/West Germany division begin? In 1945, a conference was held in Potsdam, Germany, gathering Premier Joseph Stalin, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Independence, Missouri-native, President Harry S. Truman. This began the process of dividing Germany and the rest of Europe into two spheres of influence: USA and USSR. To get to know more about this important moment in history, check out Henry Kissinger’s book, Diplomacy.

Fast Facts

  • Borders nine neighbors – more than any other European country.

  • Germany is a federal parliamentary republic with a head of government – the chancellor – and a head of state – the president – whose primary responsibilities are representative.

  • It is a member of the European Union.

  • The President of the European Commission is Ursula von der Leyen from Germany.

  • There are 97 nature reserves in Germany, the biggest of which is the Black Forest.

  • The biggest Beer Festival in the world is the Oktoberfest in Munich, Bavaria.

  • Capital: Berlin

  • These facts – and more – can be found right HERE, and HERE.

Drink and Food

When you think about Germany, the first thing that probably pops into your head is someone dressed in traditional lederhosen holding a huge beer mug in his/her hands. And for good reason. In addition to hosting the biggest beer festival in the world, Germany is considered the second largest beer consumer in Europe. In 1516, Germany issued a list of strict rules controlling what could go into beer, and these purity laws were called Reinheitsgebot.

This decree had three aims: to protect drinkers from high prices, to ban the use of wheat in beer so more bread could be made, and to stop brewers from adding toxic and hallucinogenic ingredients. Germany exports 1.5 billion liters of beer every year and you can find the best German beers here.

Bratwurst is a well-known staple of German cuisine. Bratwurst dates back to centuries ago when nothing could be wasted by German ancestors during winter months. So, the smallest scraps of meat were encased into sausages. In fact, the word “Bratwurst” originated from the Old High German word “Brat”, meaning “without waste” and “wurst”, which means “sausage”.

A Turkish immigrant in Germany (Kadir Nurman) was recognized by the Association of Turkish Doner Manufactures as the creator of the Doner Kebab. Inspired by the Wirtschaftswunder, an economic boom that happened in Germany in the 50’s, thousands of Turkish immigrants decided to settle down on West Germany. Nurman saw it as an opportunity to sell grilled meat inside a flat bread at a cheap price.

Walking around German cities, Kebabs are the most common street food you will find. It’s already part of their culture and a Berlin symbol.

Books and Movies

If you want to learn more about Germany, its people and culture, here is a list of German streaming movie titles, and a list of books to get you started!
A really good movie choice for a Sunday morning would definitely be “The Wave”: the story of a high school teacher who comes up with an experiment in order to explain to his students how easily the masses can be manipulated and how autocratic governments work. Unfortunately, things go in a different – and darker – path…
Oktoberfest
As we now know, Oktoberfest is definitely the most famous German festival. It’s held in Munich in October, a celebration in honor of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig (who later became King Louis I) and his marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen Hildburghausen. By the late 20th century, things developed and it became this huge party we know now. According to the Oktoberfest International Guide, the total beer consumption during Oktoberfest 2019 reached 7.3 million liters!
Christmas in Germany

Christmas has always been a big thing in Germany, and their celebrations begin well before Christmas Eve! In November, markets start selling Adventskranz, an advent wreath traditionally made of evergreen and topped with four candles. This decoration became part of German culture when a theologian decorated an old cartwheel with nineteen small red candles and four big white candles so kids could count the days until Christmas. Now, the four candles on the wreath represent the four advent Sundays before Christmas!

Make your own along with this German video, HERE.

Just as Christmas doesn’t begin on the 24th for Germans, it doesn’t end on the 25th, either! On December 26th, they commemorate the “Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag”: Boxing Day.

Oh! And just as important, there’s also the super famous German Christmas Markets. Get to know more German Christmas Traditions here!

Somalia

Visitors and residents, alike, are surprised to find that the Kansas City metropolitan area is home to one of the largest communities of Africans in the Midwest. The first waves came from Nigeria, followed by Sudanese and Somalians making the most recent and largest addition to the cultural fiber of the city.

Somali refugees began arriving in Kansas City in the early 1990s, and ever since, the Somali population in Kansas City has grown to around 7,250, living mostly in the Northeast, North Kansas City, and Overland Park. The Somali population is so large that Somali is the 3rd most spoken language in KC homes, trailing only English and Spanish. The Somali community is a crucial puzzle piece of what makes Kansas City a home and a family.

Fast Facts: Somalia

  • Somalia has the longest coastline in mainland Africa
  • The official languages of Somalia are Somali and Arabic
  • Somalia is one of the most ethnically homogenous countries in Africa
  • More than half of the residents of Somalia are farmers, herders, and independent business owners
  • In Somalia, people often perfume homes after large meals or on special occasions when guests are visiting their homes
  • Find more facts about Somalia herehere and here!

Did You Know?

Current Congresswoman, Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, is the first Somali American, the first naturalized citizen of African birth, and the first woman of color to represent Minnesota in the United States Congress. She is also one of the first two Muslim women (along with Rashida Tlaib) to serve in Congress.

Somalia’s flag is light blue, inspired by the United Nations flag, as the UN played an intrinsic role in supporting Somalia’s move towards independence. The white star is the Somali national symbol. Each of its five points represents a Somali homeland.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Somalia is the product of Somalia’s rich tradition of trade and commerce. Despite the variety, there remains one thing that unites the various regional cuisines: all food is served halal. This means: no pork, no alcohol, no blood, and nothing that died on its own.

Lunch (make your own qado) is often an elaborated main dish of pasta or rice spiced with cumin, cardamom, cloves, and sage. The diffused use of pasta, such as spaghetti, comes from the Italians. It is frequently presented with a heavier stew than the Italian pasta sauce and is often served with a banana.

In Somalia, Arab cuisines such as fava beans with kimis, or white bread with hummus, is very popular. Other popular dishes include falafel with hummus or are eaten with pita bread, salad and hummus (like a sandwich).

Southern Somalis commonly consume a soft cornmeal referred to as soor or asida. It is mashed with fresh milk, butter and sugar, or presented with a hole in the middle filled with maraq, or olive oil.

Learn how to make Somali bean stew (a dish common during dinner time)!

Culture and Arts

Henna is an important part of Somali culture. It is worn by Somali women on their hands, arms, feet and neck during weddings, Eid, Ramadan, and other festive occasions. Somali henna designs often feature flower motifs and triangular shapes. The palm is also frequently decorated with a dot of henna, and the fingertips are dipped in the dye.

For centuries, Somali scholars have produced many notable examples of Islamic literature, ranging from poetry to Hadith. Numerous contemporary Somali authors have also released novels which have gone on to receive worldwide acclaim.

Of these modern writers, Nuruddin Farah is probably the most celebrated. Books such as From a Crooked Rib and Links are considered important literary achievements, works that have earned Farah the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature among other accolades.

In the Somali language, soo maal, a common greeting of welcome, refers to the act of milking, offering a guest the opportunity to milk an animal and get himself something to drink. Somalis traditionally offer a milky tea and burn incense to welcome visitors.

Somalis greet one another by saying, “Maalin wanaagsan” (Good day) or “Nabad myah?” (How are you?). Learn basics of Somali language, here!

A new generation of more entertainment-oriented movies coming from the Somali film industry has grown increasingly popular among Somalis both within Somalia and in the diaspora.

Referred to as Somaliwood, this cinematic movement has energized the local movie scene. Popular movies from Somaliwood include slasher thriller, Xaaskayga Araweelo, and the action-comedy, Rajo and Warmooge, the first Somali animated film. See what’s streaming in Somali film and TV, here.

Indonesia

The Ethnic Enrichment Commission of Greater Kansas City (EECKC) has an Indonesian Commission. This commission – led by Marti and Jim Wilson – is highly active in the KC area – especially in the Ethnic Enrichment Festival, where they bring performers of traditional dance and music out to Swope Park, annually!

Global Ties KC has hosted Indonesian leaders as guests in Kansas City for a number of programs in the last few years, including “Accountability in Government,” “The U.S. Higher Education System,” and “Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management“.

To connect further with the Indonesian community in Kansas City, check out the Indonesian Fellowship of Greater Kansas City (IFGKC).

Fast Facts: Indonesia

  • Indonesia’s capital and most populous city is Jakarta
  • It is made up of 18,307 individual islands 
  • Indonesia is 3rd most volcanic country in the world with more than 139 volcanoes spread over its many islands
  • The country has the highest percentage of young people in the world – it’s home to more than 138 million people under 30
  • The Indonesian flag is identical to the flag of Monaco, with the exception of the Indonesian flag being slightly wider
  • Coffee is incredibly important to the economy – Indonesia is the 4th largest coffee exporter in the world
  • Find more facts about Indonesia herehere, and here!

Food and Drink

Indonesia has an incredibly rich diversity of cuisine. Rice is a central component of many Indonesian dishes, though coconut milk, fish, and chilies are just as common. As a result, Indonesia is known for Gulai, or curry. There are endless variations of Gulai – each island has its own Gulai traditions with varying ingredients and techniques.

Try this recipe for an exciting, fragrant chicken curry: Gulai Ayam. Explore Indonesia’s incredible culinary offerings.

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest producers of coffee. In 2019, the country produced more than 1,455,050,000 pounds of coffee for market. Coffees are prized for their darker flavors, mellow acidity, and earthy characteristics. Broadway Roasting Co. and Parisi in Kansas City roast Indonesian brews, including this one from Sumatra.

KC Local Indonesian Selections

You can find many of the ingredients for Indonesian staples, and plenty of inspiration, at your local Asian market. Consider making a trip to one of these local favorites.

Every Sunday, enjoy takeout from the Overland Park pop up: Indonesian Sunday Brunch.

Culture and Arts

Indonesia has a rich history of dance and storytelling. Each ethnic group in Indonesia has its own dances and traditions of movement. As a result there are more than 3000 unique forms of dance in the country serving a variety of expressive, ritualistic, and religious purposes.

In addition to dance, Indonesia has an incredible array of music and unique musical instruments.
The country is known for its percussive instruments, including the gongkulintang, and angklungPercussion ensembles hold a special place in Indonesian musical contributions.

Indonesian art is equal parts beauty and practicality. The islands maintain centuries old traditions of functional art like pottery, weaving, and architecture.

Textiles are every bit as beautiful as they are functional in Indonesia. The country has an astounding number of weaving techniques like batik or ikat. Batik is particularly revered in the country’s culture. In many ways it is viewed as a national art form, with regional motifs and textures.

Theatre is particularly important in Indonesia. Traditions include heavy use of  puppets, shadow theatre, and dance dramas. Wayang kuilt, a specialized form from Java, employs the use of beautifully carved puppets held behind backdrops with elaborate wooden rods. The puppet master, artfully moves the puppets to cast shadows, while a narrator and orchestra provide the voices and music. Check out a modern spin on Wayang – incorporating
digital media alongside puppets.

Though football (soccer) and martial arts are very popular sports, nothing comes close to badminton. The sport spread throughout the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, and Indonesia has dominated the sport at the Olympics since 1992. The country currently holds 32 total Olympic medals – 19 of which are for badminton!

Did You Know?

Indonesia has one of the largest selections of flora and fauna in the world! There are nearly 40,000 species of flowering plants alone across the nation’s 18,307 islands. The country has more than 3,000 varieties of tree including magnolia and teak. Additionally, the islands are home to some incredibly rare species, including the komodo dragon and Javanese peacock.

Festivals

Indonesia is home to numerous festivals but one of the most interesting festivals, Nyepi, doesn’t have the same fanfare one might expect. Instead, the Day of Silence is held once a year before the Balinese New Year. The holiday is strictly enforced – the streets are regularly patrolled, lights are prohibited, and no travel is allowed – a day entirely set aside for self reflection and fasting. After the holiday has passed, the province of Bali erupts into celebration. Loved ones ask forgiveness of one another, religious rites are observed, and the new year begins.

France

Did you know that Kansas City exists because of the French? Their influence can be found everywhere – from historical markers, to cuisine around town! Learn more about the Kansas City-French connection – as well as French history and culture.

Fort de Cavagnial was a French fort and trading post located on the west cliffs of the Missouri River, somewhere north of Kansas City, Kansas, and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from 1744 until about 1764. While the ruins of the site were still visible when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark ventured in the area during their famed 1804 westward expedition, all traces of the fort were eventually lost by the mid-19th century.

The origins of Kansas City date to the early 1800s, when French fur traders arrived by the Missouri River and built rough cabins along the river. Louis Jolliet first used the names “Kansas” and “Missouri” on a map, though he did not visit the area himself, but helped gather information for others who would come.

Kansas City has been “twin towns” sister cities with Metz, France since 2003, while Wichita, KS has been sister cities with Orleans, France since 1974!

We have an Honorary Consul of the French Republic right here in Kansas City! Cyprienne Simchowitz works in partnership with local and regional institutions to promote French culture in the region, as well as local and regional businesses to foster economic and business cooperation with French companies.

The Ethnic Enrichment Commission (EECKC) has a France commission. Check out the 10 French inventions presentation from a French delegate right here in KC for this year’s virtual Ethnic Enrichment Festival!

In 2018 and 2019 alone, Global Ties KC hosted well over 30 international delegates and participants from France for programs right here in Kansas City! The programs included a Youth Ambassador ProgramHip Hop education group, Privacy in the Digital Age, and more!

French playwright Molière was born on January 15th, 1622. Two hundred years later, Kansas City became a French settlement and Missouri became a state. Celebrations of the 400th birthday and the 200th anniversaries will come together in the 2021-22 theatre season and in city-wide arts events: KC MOlière: 400 in 2022.  

Armistice Day

Also known as Remembrance Day, the Armistice took place November 11th, 1918 and marks the end of the World War I. The First World War was responsible for taking the lives of nine million soldiers and injuring 21 million others, so on this day, we not only celebrate the end of the war, but use this as a moment to remember those who died.

Here in the states, this is known as Veterans Day, and is a bank holiday meant for us to also give pause and appreciate all of our military veterans for their service and sacrifice.

Fast Facts: France

  • France is the largest country in the EU
  • Capital: Paris.
  • France has borders with 11 countries
  • As of 2016, France has made it illegal to throw away unsold food that is perfectly edible – you must donate all unsold food
  • France has the most time zones in the world
  • Louis XIX was the king of France for just 20 minutes, the shortest reign ever
  • Find more facts about France here and here!

Food and Drink

Today we are putting the spotlight on the Southwest Cassoulet, whose name is derived from the earthenware casserole it is cooked in. Traditionally made with white beans, pork, sausage, confit and gizzard, it is a staple in French kitchens. Some say that the first cassoulet was cooked by the besieged townspeople/peasants during the siege of Castelnaudary by the Black Prince.

Every year in New York, you can experience the Cassoulet War, an event that gathers chefs, French wine and debates over which cassoulet is the best.

Do you know why Champagne became so important in France? On Christmas day, 496 AD, the Frankish warrior, Clovis, was baptized in Reims Cathedral and crowned the first king of France. The wines used in this consecration were from the Champagne vineyards, converting Champagne into an eternal link to the French crown. During the French “Belle époque”, Champagne became a mass-market luxury, being described by painters and writers – like Monet and Goethe – as a representation of modern life. Nowadays the US is the second biggest importer of champagne bottles, responsible for over 25 million, annually!

Culture and Arts

France is known for its large contribution to art and science. One example is the famous Claude Monet. Raised in Normandy, he was a French painter responsible for naming the art movement “Impressionism” and therefore, giving birth to a whole new style of paintings. Through his art, Monet portrayed the landscape and leisure activities of Paris and also the Normandy Coast. In 2011, there was an art exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and it was brought to our city Monet’s “Water Lilies” triptychs, three paintings which were separated for 50 years. 

Want a little bit of France in your own home decor? Check out French by Design, direct importers right here in Kansas City!

Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior are just a handful of the modern designers who have helped to establish France’s reputation as a world leader in all things fashion. Stylistically and technically innovative, the French fashion industry dates back to the 17th century, with Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’. Check out a history of French fashion, here.

Édith Piaf was responsible for some of the well-known French songs. She was a French singer-songwriter, cabaret performer and film actress noted as France’s national chanteuse and one of the country’s most widely known international stars. Piaf’s music was often autobiographical and she specialized in chanson and torch ballads about love, loss and sorrow.

Piaf passed away in 1963, and French music has gone through many revolutions, since. Here is a beginner’s guide to popular French music in 2020, as well as the “Top 100 French Songs You Must Hear.”

Although Kansas City doesn’t have its own French Film Festival, you can find French Films at many of our regular fests, including: First Friday Film Festival, Kansas City Film Fest International (KCFFI), and the Kansas International Film Fest (KIFF).

Check out French Flicks and Reelgood for their lists of streaming French films and television shows!

Sports and Recreation

Some of the most popular French sports include football (soccer), tennis, cycling, handball, basketball, and rugby.

The French Open (tennis) dates back to 1891 as a national championship and was raised to international status in 1925. When it first started, the championships were reserved for French Clubs, and women’s singles were added six years later.

The national soccer team has won several titles, including the UEFA European Championships, the World Cup, and the FIFA Confederations Cup.

You’ll see the French spirit really come out when the team makes it to the finals or wins the whole tournament, with celebrations that spill out onto the Champs-Elysées as excited fans party until the sun comes up.

Belize

We are elated to be deepening our Kansas City ties to Belize on an ongoing basis. Here are some of our existing connections!

In 2019, two Kansas Citians were accepted into the Youth Ambassadors Exchange program with Belize. In 2021, they will be traveling to Belize and creating more global connections!

Global Ties KC has hosted a handful of Belizean visitors in programs in Kansas City – from Government-focused, to Women in Entrepreneurship! We even welcomed a group of librarians into town to explore the importance of community-based partnerships and strategies for promoting sustainability in American libraries (and more!)

Garifuna Settlement Day
Garifuna Settlement Day (formerly Carib Disembarkation Day), is one of the most important holidays to Belizeans, marking the day that the Garifuna people arrived in Belize on November 19th, 1802. Today, the holiday is celebrated starting at the end of October and ending on November 19th. People also celebrate through the Battle of the Drums, a competition of traditional dancing, singing, and drumming that is held at the international and high school level. Sometimes people come all the way from Guatemala to compete! There is also the Yurumei, which is a reenactment of the first landing of the Garifuna people which then turns into a procession ending at a Catholic church service.
Learn more about traditional Garifuna dishes, and about the Garifuna culture.
Fast Facts: Belize
  • Government: Constitutional Monarchy
  • Capital: Belmopan
  • Almost all Belizeans are trilingual speaking English, Spanish, and Belizean Kriol
  • Belize has the lowest population in Central America with 383,071 citizens! (Kansas City has a population of 491,918!)
  • The only Jaguar preservation in the world is found in the Stann Creek District of south-central Belize
  • The Great Blue Hole found near Belize City, is the worlds largest sinkhole!
  • The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest Barrier Reef in the world!
  • There are no American fast food chains in Belize!
  • Find more facts about Belize here and here!

Food and Drink

This week we are highlighting Belizean Stew Beans and Rice. It is a “smorgasbord of culture” that is commonly eaten all over Belize. It is fairly easy to make and super delicious.

Want to make it yourself? Click HERE! Interested in making another authentic Belizean recipes? Click HERE for several!

Looking for a dessert, breakfast, or tasty side dish? Look no further than Fry Jacks! They are a staple of Belizean households and are commonly eaten with an egg and beans. And, to top them off? They are served with a healthy dusting of powdered sugar!

Learn how to make your own HERE

Culture and Arts

The art of Belize reflects the diversity of Belize itself. People from different backgrounds come together to create and showcase art at Belize’s many art galleries. Below we have highlighted two of the most influential Belizean artists of modern times.

Benjamin Nicholas, (1930- 2012) was a “one-man chronicler” of the history and culture of the Garifuna people. Through his art he shared the everyday life of the Garifuna people. He was famous internationally and was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.

Yasser Musa, son of a former prime minister is a famous artist in Belize. He is an activist, poet, teacher, and more. Today, he teaches art the Belize Art Center in Belize City.

Learn more about the different artists of Belize HERE  and HERE. Want to see some Central American art in KC? Click HERE!

Andy Palacio is a musician who has played a big role in Belizean culture, as his life’s work was preserving the Garifuna culture through music. He began this work after he went to a Garifuna village and learned that only people over 50 years old could speak the Garifuna language. He worried that if this continued, his culture would go extinct. His album Watina was his way of documenting and preserving his culture, and was named one of the best world music releases of 2008. He was the official Culture Ambassador for Belize, and served as the head of the National institute of Culture and History, before his passing in 2008.

Learn more about Palacio’s life and music HERE and HERE.

Belizean literature is a great place to learn about the history and culture of Belize. Below is a small selection to get you started!

Did you know that Belize has its own annual international film festival that showcases primarily Central American and Caribbean films? Founded in 2003, the BelizeIFF’s mission is to promote the appreciation and production of visual media in Belize. Want to watch a movie in Belizean-Creole? Check out 2012: Curse of the Xtabai. This supernatural thriller was the first Belizean major feature length film and was a selection at the festival in the same year.

Learn more about the BelizeIFF, movies filmed in Belize, and stream Belizean films!

Sports and Recreation

Soccer, softball, surfing, windsurfing, and basketball are all very popular sports in Belize. Football is the most popular spectator sport.

The Belize Basketball federation (BBF) holds tournaments for everyone from preschoolers to retirees! Basketball is especially popular sport there, with a basketball court in almost every neighborhood.

 

India

Global Ties KC has hosted over 14 programs in the last 5 years with international leaders from India. In May 2018, we hosted seven participants from India in partnership with the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to meet with local organizations on the topic of Social Entrepreneurs in the United States. This program provided opportunities to network with U.S. counterparts to discuss best practices and innovative approaches to social change, and to examine the role of social entrepreneurship in the U.S. They were even our guests of honor at our Global Ties KC Annual Celebration (look out for info on our upcoming virtual celebration in May of this year)!

But, it isn’t just in the last 5 years that Global Ties KC has been hosting visitors from India – we’ve been doing this for over 65 years! In Oct 2012, Global Ties KC hosted a memorable program with five political journalists in partnership with the IVLP to meet with local journalists, professors at the KU and a State politician to discuss U.S. foreign policy process and the role of media. Keep on eye on our emails for announcements of future in-person delegations!

Fast Facts: India
  • The big six languages: Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, and Urdu are spoken by more than 50 million people, but there are more than 1,600 reported language and dialects spoken in India!
  • India will likely overtake China as the most populous country by 2028 with more than 1.4 billion people.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, India ranks 3rd in the number of records claimed each year.
  • Martial Arts originated in India.
  • Chess was invented in India.
  • The largest employer is the Indian Railways, employing over one million people!
  • Yoga has its origins in India and has existed for more than 5,000 years.
  • Learn more about India

Food and Drink

  • India is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of mangoes
  • There are several hundred varieties of Indian mango, more than 30 are commercially available
  • More than 40% of the world’s annual output of mangoes are grown in India, head of its competition from China, Thailand and Bangladesh
  • India is know as the ‘land of spices,’ because they produce over 70% of the world’s spices
  • Home to one of the world’s hottest chillies – bhut jolokia or ghost pepper is estimated to be 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce
  • India has been producing salt for over 5,000 years. The southern state of Kerala has been exporting black pepper since ancient times, which is known as ‘black gold’ because it is a highly-valued commodity

Culture and Arts

India’s popular film industry is segmented by language. The Hindi language film industry – the largest in India – is known as Bollywood. This is followed closely by Tamil and Telugu film industries, and lastly the South Indian Film and Bengali cinema.

Since the 1990s, the three biggest Bollywood movie stars have been the “Three Khans” Aamir KhanShah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. Combined, they have starred in the top ten highest-grossing Bollywood films. Sridevi is regarded as the first female superstar of Bollywood film because of her equally successful career in the Hindi, Telugu and Tamil film industries. She is the only movie star in the history of Bollywood to star in the top ten highest grossing movies of the year!

Astrology plays an important role in millions of lives in India.  It is a traditional practice in Hindu.

Astrology is practiced to determine important dates especially wedding dates: families reach out to priests and astrologers to choose a wedding date as well as horoscopes of the bride and groom are checked for compatibility.

Cricket is the most popular sport in the country. The India men’s national cricket team, known as Team India and Men in Blue has won two Cricket World Cups, two ICC Champions Trophy and the ICC World Twenty20. The India team shares a rivalry with the Pakistani team, and the India-Pakistan matches are the most anticipated matches and most watched televised broadcasts in the country – upward to more than 1 billion viewers.

India will host the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup in 2021 and the Cricket World Cup in 2023.

Dancing is an important aspect of Indian culture, common in film and weddings. One of the most celebrated and oldest classical dance forms of India, Bharatanatyam, is unique to the Dravidian culture in South India, and dates back to over 2,000 years ago.
Kathak is the most popular form of dance in North India. It is associated with storytelling. Other classical forms of dance are: Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, and Odissi.

Entrepreneurship

At just 30 years old, IVLP alum Yatin Thakur, from India, had already founded Startup India Advisory, a collective aimed at fostering entrepreneurship, and CoworkIn, a company that caters to a new generation of Indian entrepreneurs by providing affordable co-working spaces throughout New Delhi.

Thakur and five other Indian technology entrepreneurs visited the U.S. in 2015 as part of an IVLP called “Showcasing the American Technological Experience.” For 22 days, they traveled to six cities — Boston, Kansas City, Manchester (New Hampshire), New York City, Salt Lake City and Washington (DC) — where they took a firsthand look at e-governance initiatives, broadband access in rural areas and the use of big data in high-density U.S. cities.

Thakur says the knowledge he gained from the IVLP experience fundamentally changed his vision for his business as well as how he engages with government and business clients.

Japan

Unlike some cities on the coasts of the U.S. such as Little Tokyo in Los Angelos, Japantown in San Francisco, or the International District in Seattle, Japan does not have a specific area, town, or neighborhood in Kansas City. However, it has had and continues to have a strong presence and impact in KC whether that is through cultural programming, various organizations, cuisine, or the pop culture.

Japanese immigrants mainly began to arrive first to Hawaii in the late and early 19th and 20th centuries and eventually made their way to different cities in the U.S., including a small number to the midwest and the KC area.

In 1972, Kansas City became Sister Cities with Kurashiki, Okayama, a coastal city in Japan. The city is well known for its Ohara Museum of Art and its several universities, such as the Kurashiki University of Science and the Arts. In order to maintain ties with our sister city, there are annual youth exchange programs with both students from Kurashiki coming to Kansas City and vice versa. There was even a Japanese consulate in Kansas City up until 2004, when it was merged with the consulate in Chicago.

In the last few years, Global Ties KC has welcomed numerous visitors from Japan for several programs. These include two Japan-specific delegations, with last year’s College Admissions Process and another program about Prisons: Improving Conditions!

Fast Facts: Japan
  • The Japanese name for Japan is “Nihon” or “Nippon” meaning ‘land of the rising sun’ which is where its nickname originates
  • Japan currently has a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a constitution established post-WWII in 1947
  • Japan is an island nation made up of about 6,851 islands, with four main ones making up most of the country
  • Tokyo is the biggest city in the world and accounts for over a quarter of the Japanese population
  • With the cancellation of the 2020 Olympics, Japan will be hosting the first odd year Olympics with Tokyo 2020 being held this upcoming summer
  • Around 25 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks are used each year in Japan
  • Japan is a hotspot for many natural disasters including volcanoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes because it sits on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire
  • Find more facts about Japan here!
Important Moments in US-Japan History:

Although today, Japan is amongst the United States’ closest and most important allies, the history between the nations has been incredibly varied and at times, contentious:

  • 1854: Commodore Perry’s fleet forcefully opens up Japan to the world, establishing a treaty though aggressive ‘Gunboat Diplomacy’
  • late 19th/early 20th century: First Japanese immigrants arrive in the United States in Hawaii to work on various plantations
  • 1912: The Japanese cherry trees still visible in Washington DC, especially during springtime, are sent as a gesture of friendship
  • WWI: Japan is a strong ally but between the wars, Japan and US relations denigrate partially because of imperialistic actions and motivations of Japan, especially in China, Korea, and other Asian countries
  • WW2: Japan directly prompts the United States’ involvement in the Second World War with the Pearl Harbor Bombing
    • Many Japanese immigrants and those of Japanese descent living in America were forced into relocation camps during the war and were faced with severe and violent discrimination across the country
  • Post-war: Strong US-Japan Alliance is formed with both security and economic relations through the form of numerous military bases such as Kadena Air Base in Okinawa
  • Read more about US-Japan diplomatic relations here!

Food and Drink

Miso soup is a very common and famous Japanese food known for its numerous health benefits and for being a typical side dish accompanying other main dishes.

When made most simply, it is made out of a fermented miso base and Japanese dashi which is traditionally made out of bonito and kelp. However, there are countless variations unique to different regions in Japan from different types of miso paste or adding in seafood, tofu, and vegetables.

Try making this simple, yet delicious and healthy soup for yourself. Here is a guide with further explanation and a recipe!

Culture and Arts

Although the 2020 Greater Kansas City Japan Festival had to be held virtually, it’s left the community with a great and accessible way to learn more about Japanese Art and Culture. Among the many videos on their website is a Japanese Calligraphy tutorial, learning Nihonga: Traditional Japanese Painting, a Kendo– a Japanese Martial Art– Demonstration, a quick language tutorial and so much more. Make sure to check it out!

The Kimono is the traditional Japanese garment and is still worn during important formal events and ceremonies but is no longer everyday wear. Learn more about the history and modern aspects of the kimono here!

Japan has the world’s second-biggest music market, only behind the US, and a significant impact on the international music scene, most notably through J-Pop. With a wide variety of different genres and sounds, check out this list of some popular songs and artists and you’re sure to find something you enjoy!

One of our personal favorites is a bit retro but is still a classic is Stay with Me (1979) by Miki Matsubara.

One of the most impactful Japanese-American writers is award-winning novelist Yoshiko Uchida. She is best known for her autobiography, Desert Exile, which details, among many things, the uprooting of her family during WW2 and their experience in the internment camps. Additionally, she is also acclaimed for her children’s books and is credited with creating a previously non-existent body of Japanese-American literature for children.
A comprehensive list of some of the most influential Japanese literature and writers can be found here.

Japan is well known around the world for its cinema and animation. Among the most notable is Studio Ghibli which has produced acclaimed movies such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.

For another well-crafted animated film, try this Netflix movie, In this Corner of the World, which depicts the lives and struggles of the Japanese people during WWII.

Ukraine

On behalf of Global Ties KC, we stand with Ukraine in this time of Russian aggression. For decades, Global Ties KC has hosted exchange programs supported by the US. Government, including 125 individuals from Ukraine who have spent time in Kansas City in just the past dozen years on professional exchanges. The Ukrainian community in Kansas City continues to be one of the largest contributors and supporters of Global Ties KC programs. Turning a blind-eye to violence is an act of violence in of itself, and at this point in history, we can not afford to turn a blind eye to what is happening across Europe.

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The University of Kansas signed a cooperation agreement with L’viv State University in Ukraine in summer 1991, several months before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Additionally, KU is one of the few universities in the United States with a robust Ukrainian Studies program. Through this, they have brought many distinguished guest speakers to campus, from Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yushchenko to several of the country’s leading contemporary authors.

Global Ties KC has hosted 12 Open World Programs for Ukraine since 2012. Congress authorized the creation of Open World as a Legislative Branch agency that offers bipartisan support to Members of Congress in creating cultural exchanges for Eurasian leaders to witness democracy building in action. These programs incorporate week-long professional appointments and local homestay placements in the Kansas City community. Open World provides a unique opportunity to connect personally to Ukraine through community celebrations, cultural hosting, and the sharing of best practices.

Fast Facts: Ukraine
  • While it still remains common, “The Ukraine” is an incorrect way to refer to a country. Ukraine (no definitive article) should be used ever since their recognition as a sovereign state.
  • Capital: Kyiv
  • Kyiv’s name derives from a legendary family of four siblings, Kyi, Skchek, Khoryv, and Lybid. Kyi being the oldest gets the city named after him.
  • Ukraine is the largest country in Europe, and is just smaller than Texas.
  • Kyiv has the world’s deepest metro station at 105.5 meters (346 feet) below the ground.
  • Actress Mila Kunis (Milena Markovna Kunis –  Ukrainian: Мілена Марківна Куніс) was born in Soviet Ukraine and moved
    to the United States with her family at 7-years-old in 1991!
  • Find more facts about Ukraine here and here!

Food and Drink

Ukrainian Borscht is sweet and sour soup made with beets, cabbage, garlic and dill. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and rye bread to round out this traditional meal!

Many countries claim the dish as central to their culinary tradition. However, what has previously been a small debate now threatens to bubble over, as Ukrainians have started an effort to have borscht recognized as part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage by the United Nations’ cultural agency – upsetting Moscow. More on that HERE.

Before 1936, horilka referred to an infusion of herbs, berries or roots in strong alcohol. However, horilka has evolved to be a translation of “solution of water and purified alcohol”. Due to its composition, the drink is recognized as the purest alcoholic beverage in the world! It is a universal drink that will fit any event or feast, but there is one rule: drink horilka chilled (freeze for 2-3 hours). Don’t leave it in the freezer for long! Once the beverage is too cold, you will get drunk very fast, since the water will freeze on the walls of the bottle, and you will be drinking practically pure alcohol.

Culture and Arts

Fresco painting is a method of painting on freshly plastered walls with powdered pigments that are resistant to the erosive action of lime. The origins of fresco painting in Ukraine can be traced back to the 4th century BC. Frescoes adorned the homes, public buildings, and tombs of the Greek colonists and Scythians on the coast of the Black Sea.

More on the history of Ukrainian art and art forms can be found HERE.

Although vyshyvanka (an embroidered shirt) is a part of traditional Ukrainian attire, it is a trendy piece for everyday life as well. Many Ukrainian brands have created their own interpretations of its traditional look. Fashion celebrities like Anna dello Russo and Dita Von Teese have been spotted in vyshyvanka by Ukrainian designer Vita Kin.

One of the world’s most famous Christmas songs – The Carol of the Bells – was based on the Ukrainian song Shchedryk, written in 1916 by composer Mykola Leontovich! Since then, the melody has become known around the world – and so should more Ukrainian music!

Find out why Ukrainian music should be the next thing queued up on your playlist!

To begin a journey in Ukrainian literature, the novelist Oksana Zabuzhko is a wonderful start. She is one of the most read Ukrainian intellectuals and writers. She combines fiction with her own unique imagery, style, and philosophical ideas, according to Ukraine World.

A comprehensive list of the most influential Ukrainian literature can be found here.

For easy access Ukrainian film, try this Netflix documentary, Winter on Fire to learn more about modern day protests, and peruse this list of streaming Ukrainian films.

For more historic Ukrainian film, check out actor, director, and screen writer, Ivan Mikolaychuk. His movies often involve Cossacks.

Slovakia

  • In the early 1900s, a settlement was forming around a new Standard Oil refinery, located on the banks of the Missouri River in Sugar Creek, Missouri. For many Slavic families, this brought the promise of the American Dream – the chance to work, provide a good education for their children and practice the religion of their choice. As word spread, Slovaks, Czechs, Hungarians, Croatians, Serbians, Slovenes, and Poles left their homeland to come to Sugar Creek and Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Today, the Sugar Creek Slavic Festival brings groups together from across the Kansas City area to highlight their Slavic heritage. Though cancelled for 2020, the Slavic Festival is a premier celebration of Slavic culture, attracting thousands of visitors each year!
  • The Sugar Creek Tamburitzans, Sugar Creek Ethnic Dance Troupe, and Kolo Kids are all year-round performance groups in the area that perform traditional Slavic dances and music!
  • We have a regional Slovak Republic honorary consul that resides right here in KC: Ross P. Marine! In his role as Honorary Consul, Mr. Marine has promoted and encouraged business, cultural, educational, and international exchange between the Midwest and Slovakia.
  • The US donated more than 14,000 units of PPE to the Slovak Republic

Fast Facts

  • Slovak Republic is the official name, but the geographical centre of Europe is mostly known just as Slovakia (or Slovensko in Slovak language)
  • The republic was established on 1st of January 1993 after Czechoslovakia split into two countries – Czech Republic and Slovakia
  • The political system is parliamentary democracy
  • World’s highest number of castles and chateaux per capita
  • Home to more than 6,000 caves
  • The only capital in the world bordering two countries
  • For more fun, fast, and historical facts, click hereherehere, and here!

Food and Drink

Traditional Slovak cuisine provided high-energy, low-cost, and recipe quick-prep sustenance to peasants, herders, and laborers. Slovak food, therefore, leans heavily toward potatoes and wheat, cabbage and onions, and dairy.

With Slovakia’s territory located in the heart of Europe, traditional Slovak cuisine is heavily influenced by Hungarian, Austrian, and Czech cuisines, with some Turkish influences.

Typical Slovak dishes are simple, filling, comforting, and homey—and they pair well with beer.

For example, the Slovak national dish, bryndzové halušky, is potato-dough gnocchi smothered in salty sheep bryndza cheese, and topped with smoked bacon bits. More Slovak food and recipes can be found here and here.

Besides language, traditions, food, architecture and the historical touch, a country can also be explored by drinking its most known beverages. Let’s find out the secret traditional drinks that Slovakia hides with this list of Must-Try Traditional Drinks!

Kofola has been described as a “non-alcoholic herbal cola drink”. Intrigue you? There is plenty more where that came from!

Culture and Art

Slovakia is proud of its rich folklore and folk traditions. Each region, city, and municipality has a unique character and folklore – costumes, music, songs, architecture, customs, traditions, dances and dialects. Folklore festivals organized all around Slovakia serve to present the folk customs of individual regions.

The largest folk festivals in Slovakia are held in the towns of Východná, Myjava, and Detva, and all three festivals are organized under the auspices of C.I.O.F.F. (the world’s largest folklore organization).

Learn more, here!

The art of Slovakia springs from a wide range of traditions, and has regularly incorporated folk and European tendencies in its treatment of chosen themes and motifs.

It often exhibits the characteristic poignancy of the changing times while encapsulating a unique take on reality. The work for Abin Brunovsky is a good introduction to the Slovak art world, as his work contains many aspects and features which categorize “Slovak art”.

It has been said that by listening to Slovak music, you can visit a country through time and collective experience. Explore the types and instruments, here!

The fujara is a contrabass instrument that creates a long, resonant timbre. Included in the UNESCO list of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, it was originally played by shepherds; now it can be heard in folk festivals, such as those of Vychodna and Detva. Along with the fujara, other traditional Slovak instruments include the konkovna, bagpipes, and the jaw harp.

Want to read Slovak literature? We’ve got this list and this list and this list for you – and we’ve highlighted a few selections, below:

Plán odprevádzania (Seeing People Off) is set in Bratislava and provides some intriguing insights about life in the borough of Petržalka, through observations, perceptions, and memories. Fun fact: the author won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2012 for her work on this novel!

Bellevue tells the story of a girl who works as a volunteer for physically disabled residents in a medical center whose observations begin to be impacted by her own struggle with depression.

Film and Television

Selected to open the 2011 London Film Festival, the movie 360 – starring Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz, and Jude Law – was an internationally produced film, partially filmed in Bratislava, Slovakia. But, that is certainly not where the representation of the Republic of Slovakia ends when it comes to film and television.

There are a number of Slovakian located, produced, and acted movies and series that can be streamed worldwide. These include:

Masaryk: A Czecho-Slovakian co-production, this biopic tells the story of Jan Masaryk, a well-known Czechoslovakian diplomat who fled to America right before the Second World War broke out.

Kandidát: This story underlies a dark humorous approach to show how wealth and power can determine the politics in a state as it highlights a campaign to turn a Mr. Nobody into the president of Slovakia.

Sport

Ice hockey is the most popular sport to watch and play in Slovakia. The Slovakian team participates in every World Championship and Olympics, and has historically done well (WCH: gold in 2002, silver in 2000 and bronze in 2003; OG: 5th in 2006, 4th in 2010), leading to a country of adoring fans, and youth teams and leagues at every ice rink!

Kenya Global Ties KC

Kenya

Kansas City is rich with African culture and heritage, with especially strong ties with Kenya. Kenyans play key roles in healthcare – with a strong national tradition of caring for their elders translating into a multitude of healthcare professions here in the states – IT, entrepreneurship, and small businesses here in Kansas City.

Lenexa’s Baraza African Cultures Center is an organization which seeks to provide leadership through the context of African cultures to create, preserve and promote a deeper understanding of one’s own culture and a broader appreciation of the various world cultures. In addition, they are a driver of development projects in Africa – especially in the more marginalized communities. And, it’s right here, locally.

The Ethnic Enrichment Commission of Kansas City (EECKC) has a Kenyan commission, and – for 2020 – their annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival went virtual! Check out the Kenyan presentation and musical performer at just past the hour mark!
Check out this profile on Immigrants in the Kansas City Region – with Kenya being one of the most common birth countries, and over 50% of the KC Kenyan population living in Johnson County.

Global Ties Kansas City has hosted 5 programs with Kenyan visitors over the last 5 years, including NGO ManagementWomen in Entrepreneurship, and Volunteerism in the US.

The University of Central Missouri (UCM) and Summit Technology Academy came together to launch KenMo in the fall of 2019, a program meant to foster collaboration and innovation by working with students, community organizations, businesses and government agencies in Kenya and Missouri. It has gone virtual for the time being, but merited an in-person visit from Kenyan Governor Kivutha Kibwana in September 2019! An article from the Diaspora Messenger – Kenyans In Kansas City: How A Community Of Immigrants Can Become Powerful

Jamhuri Day
On Saturday, December 12, 1963, Kenya gained independence from Great Britain and on December 12, 1964, the country was admitted into the Commonwealth as a republic. Jamhuri Day is a day to celebrate independence and it is celebrated by almost every Kenyan in one way or another. It is celebrated through feasts, parades, and dancing. Learn more about Jamhuri Day.

Fast Facts

  • Capital: Nairobi
  • Form of Government: Presidential Republic
  • Population: 51.39 million
  • In Kenya, more than 60 languages are spoken and there are more than 40 ethnic groups.
  • Corn is the top commodity
  • Kenya is roughly the same size as Texas
  • Kenya was a colony of the United Kingdom from 1920 until 1963.
  • Maasai Mara Game Reserve is Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Reserve, voted as the eighth wonder of the World and best safari destination
  • The bones of one of the earliest human ancestors ever found were discovered in Kenya’s Turkana Basin
  • Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest on the continent of Africa!
Find more fast facts about Kenya here and here.
Food and Drink
Sukuma Wiki is an East African dish made of collard greens – sukuma – cooked with onions and spices. Sukuma Wiki is Swahili for “to stretch the week”, and it has this name because it’s an affordable meal.
A great accompaniment to Sukuma Wiki is Ugali, a cornmeal porridge made of flour (traditionally millet or sorghum flour, but substitutes like cassava work!). Today, it is a staple of the Kenyan diet, eaten by many on a daily basis. It is generally served as a side – the perfect accompaniment for stews, curries, or veggie dishes! There’s nothing better than eating a warm ugali dish at night while you watch Sense8 on Netflix and admire Kenya’s nature. Learn more about traditional Kenyan food here and here.
KC Eateries
Did you know that Kenya is the world’s largest tea exporter? Over 500,000 small-scale Kenyan farmers grow and export over 450,000 tons of leaves each year, with “natural organic” cultivation practices. The highest produced is black tea, we can also find green tea, yellow tea and white tea – a tea for all tastes!
Kenya may be the largest black tea exporter in the world, but Kenyan tea farmers still earn only 15 cents per kilogram (1 kilo = 2.2ish pounds!) and approximately one in ten Kenyans depends on the tea industry, according to the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA). You can read more about it here.
Culture and Art
Dance is an important part of the Maasai culture. The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group that live across Kenya and Tanzania. They are a semi-nomadic people that herd goats and cattle for food, one of the only tribes to retain their culture, lifestyle, and traditions despite the colonization of the British. However, the Kenyan government continues to take land for crops, causing the group to suffer.
The Nairobi Gallery is a national monument and museum that showcases the many art forms that can be found Kenya. It was constructed in 1913 as a civil service building, colloquially called “Hatches, Matches, and Dispatches,” because of the many births, marriages, and deaths that occurred there. Click here to take a virtual tour of the gallery, and check out African art at the Nelson Atkins in this digital library.
Though Kenya is still a rather new country – having gained independence in the late 1960’s – there are many stories from different cultures to explore! A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (1967) is a fictional story set before Kenya gained independence in 1963. It is centered around Mugo, his neighbors, and his country’s journey to freedom.
If you would prefer non-fiction, we recommend you check out Unbowed: A Memoir by Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai (2007). It is an author’s account of going from a rural peasant to Nobel Laureate through her work preserving the lush Kenyan forests. Find more books HERE and HERE.
Kenya’s traditional music had tunes and rhythms that were not strictly linked to any one ethnic group. As a result of the tribe’s migrations, different ethnic groups adopted other groups’ musical styles and instruments, while holding on to their own creativity and style.
Today, the tribes work to preserve their music and traditions. Learn more about the 40+ tribes musical traditions HERE! Kenyan music finds its roots in its diverse community’s folk songs, and dances, while being influenced by contemporary music from around the world. In 2014, Kenyan artists attended the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to share their culture through music. This playlist highlights a variety of Kenyan music from the 1970’s forward.
Film and Television
The Kenyan Government works hard to promote the production of cinema in Kenya through the Kenya Film Commission (KFC), which supports the industry through providing facilities, filming locations, and events to educate young filmmakers on the craft. Riverwood (Kenya’s version of Hollywood), named after a bustling stretch in Nairobi, is quickly capturing the attention of international TV stations as well as pan-African broadcasters. The Riverwood Academy Awards was founded in 2014 and has brought together over 200 “homegrown” and self-funded filmmakers since its inception.
Sport
Success in a major run can lift folks out of poverty, which has historically made it popular among young people (read about other popular sports in Kenya here). Fantastically, a vast majority of these record-breaking runners are from a single tribe: the Kalenjin. Learn more about the tribe and how they continue to produce and support record-breaking runners.
Tegla Chepkite Loroupe is a Kenyan long distance track and road runner, as well as a powerhouse humanitarian. Among many other records, she was the first African woman to hold the women’s marathon world record, and the first woman from Africa to win the New York City Marathon…twice. She is a global spokeswoman for peace, women’s rights and education, and was the leader of the refugee team for the 2016 summer Olympics. Watch her 2016 UN Person of the Year award acceptance speech here. “In a country where only men are encouraged, one must be one’s own motivation.” – Tegla Chepkite Loroupe

DO’s and DONT’S: Visiting Kenya

Credit: Andrea Khan (Baraza // EECKC)
  1. DO enjoy the culture, but DON’T misappropriate it – in general, corn rows don’t look good on white people (unless you are Bo Derek).
  2. DON’T take photographs of local people without their consent, and DON’T take “white savior” photos of oneself surrounded by Kenyan children looking as if you are there to “help” or “save” them from their living situation.
  3. DO learn a little Swahili prior to your trip – your efforts will be appreciated by the Kenyans you speak to.
  4. DON’T take single-use plastics – they are ILLEGAL!
  5. DO tip.
  6. Going on safari? DON’T just seek out animals on your trip! Engage with the locals, try the food…animals aren’t all that exist in Africa!
  7. DO check out this more complete list, of DO’s and DON’Ts – and maybe print a copy for your next trip!

Video Tour
Until you can visit in person, explore Kenya from home through this interactive virtual tour

Spain

The JC Nichols family traveled to Europe in 1921, in part to study Spanish art and architecture. It was there that Nichols fell in love with Seville, Spain, a city located in the southern region of the country. Much of the look and the feel of Seville is influenced by the Moors, a group of people who ruled the area for nearly 800 years—and impressed their distinct design style throughout the city. One of the major remnants of that legacy, The Giralda Tower, lives on in a duplicate of the building in KC’s the Country Club Plaza.

Seville didn’t just inspire the architecture at the Plaza – it has since become an official sister city to KC. “These exchanges can add tremendously to the cultural and business life of a city. I’d like to impress on people the international nature of Kansas City. People don’t often realize, but sister cities and other organizations contribute to making this a livable city.” – Mike Wood, former president of the Sister City Association of Kansas City.

Missouri’s economical partnerships with Spain are numerous, including a VMLY&R office in Madrid!

Global Ties KC has hosted Spanish leaders as guests in Kansas City for a number of programs in the last few years, namely the “LGBTI Civic and Economic Participation in U.S. Society” program that we hosted with exclusively Spanish participants in the spring of 2019 in which we met with a number of inspirational KC-based groups, including the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project and the Mid America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

If you are interested in past Spain Arts & Culture-related events in Kansas City, keep an eye for updates on this list (and take a peek at some past exhibits, as well). And if you want Spanish news – in Spanish – check out KC’s bilingual paper, Dos Mundos.

El Dia Del Trabajador

May Day – May 1st – in Spain is known as El día del trabajador or Primero de Mayo and was celebrated for the first time in 1889: its origin is the same as the International Labour Day, the worker revolt in Chicago in 1886.

For the first Labor Day celebration, socialists and anarchists planned two separate demonstrations in Madrid. In Madrid the celebration was quite peaceful but elsewhere in Spain, the protests were very violent. For this reason the government prohibited public manifestations, so the following year the sole focus was labor laws and rights.

Nowadays the atmosphere is more festive than in the past, but people still take part in demonstrations all around the country and commemorate those who fought for the worker’s rights.

Fast Facts: Spain

  • Spain is the EU’s second largest country
  • Nudity is legal in Spain
  • Following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, female entrepreneurship boomed – and continues to prosper, today!
  • In 1605, the first novel – Don Quixote – was written in Spain
  • Spain boasts 47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Madrid is home to the world’s oldest restaurant – Restaurants Botin!
  • Find more facts about Spain, here!

Cuisine

Paella is one of the best-known dishes in Spanish cuisine. For this reason, many non-Spaniards view it as Spain’s national dish…but Spaniards almost unanimously consider it to be a dish from the Valencian region. Regardless, if you’d like to make it at home, try this recipe. If, however, you’d like to discover more prominent Spanish dishes to try, here’s a list!

There is so much more to Spanish  wine than sangria (though it is a national – and international – favorite)! Spend a little time exploring the classic wines of Spain – those that are considered “Old World”! No idea where to start? Here is a Beginner’s Guide to Spanish Wine (and how to navigate the stores that sell them)!

Spanish Food in KC

Looking to try some authentic Spanish food in Kansas City? Look no further than this extensive list from EatKC!

Culture and Arts

Spanish art has been an important contributor to Western art and Spain has produced many famous and influential artists. Spanish art has often had very distinctive characteristics, partly explained by the Moorish heritage in Spain, and through the political and cultural climate in Spain during the Counter-Reformation and the the subsequent eclipse of Spanish power under the Bourbon dynasty.

El Greco. Velázquez. Goya. Sorolla. Picasso…These are just some of the Spanish masters whose paintings are included in Spain: 500 Years of Spanish Painting from the Museums of Madrid.

Like so many countries, the most popular sport in Spain is football. Real Madrid and Barcelona are both Spanish teams with, not only some of the best players in the world, but worldwide fan bases. In addition to Real Madrid, Madrid has a second team, considered “the team of the people,” called Atlético de Madrid. Because of the number of teams, you’ll always be able to catch a soccer game in Madrid.

The classical guitar was invented in Andalusia in the 1790s when a sixth string was added to the Moorish lute. It gained its modern shape in the 1870s. Spanish musicians have taken the humble guitar to dizzying heights ever since, including its introduction to a cultural staple of Spain: the Flamenco.

Flamenco, which UNESCO recently recognized as part of the World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, is a complex art form incorporating poetry, singing (cante), guitar playing (toque), dance (baile), polyrhythmic hand-clapping (palmas), and finger snapping (pitos). It often features the call and response known as jaleo, a form of “hell raising,” involving hand clapping, foot stomping, and audiences’ encouraging shouts. Nobody really knows where the term “flamenco” originated, but all agree that the art form began in southern Spain—Andalusia and Murcia—but was also shaped by musicians and performers in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe.

Take Flamenco dance lessons locally, and even join a Flamenco-centered trip to Seville with KC’s 45 Grados Flamenco!

 

Russia

In 1763 Catherine the Great of Russia issued a manifesto encouraging immigration to Russia from Germany (her home country) in order to colonize underdeveloped land on the Black Sea and on the banks of the Volga River. Promising freedom from taxes, a loan for transportation to Russia and exemption from military service, Catherine appeared to be offering a new beginning to those tired by war. 25,000+ Germans established colonies in Russia where they lived for a century. In 1871, Czar Alexander II revoked their exemption from military service, causing a mass exodus to the United States – specifically the Midwest. The first group of Russian settlers arrived in Topeka in 1875. From Far Away Russia is an online exhibit by the Kansas Museum of History addressing the story of the Russian-Germans in Kansas.

In the early 1900s, Strawberry Hill saw significant growth with a new wave of Slavs emigrating from Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Russia. During this time, many new churches were founded, including the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, founded in 1917 on the southern portion of Strawberry Hill, known as Russian Hill. The Strawberry Hill Museum has virtual and in-person events and exhibits to explore the ties between the neighborhood and Russia even further, year-round.

Russian House of Kansas City is a non-profit dedicated to promoting and celebrating the culture of Russian-speaking people in Kansas and Missouri through events and other programming. It serves as a home for everyone who shares interest in Russian cultural heritage and language.

Global Ties KC has hosted Russian leaders as guests in Kansas City for a number of programs over the years, including: “Volunteerism: In Addressing Social Challenges” (2010), “Women and Entrepreneurship: A Multi-Regional Project” (2017), and “Jazz Archive Management: Methods of Preserving American Culture” (2019). We look forward to welcoming leaders from Russia and around the world to our hometown!

Fast Facts

Food and Drink

Kvass is an ancient, traditional Russian beverage made from buckwheat meal, wheat, rye, rye bread, or barley, but it can be made from any ingredient that can be fermented. It has a relatively low alcoholic content as a result of the natural fermentation process, but it is classified as a non-alcoholic beverage in Russia. If you are looking for something alcoholic, check this list of must-tries!

Russian golubtsy are cabbage rolls stuffed with ground beef, then combined with either rice or buckwheat. The name of the dish means little pigeons, referring to the 18th-century aristocratic practice of grilling doves. The less wealthy couldn’t afford doves, so they started cooking fake doves, or golubtsy. Make this recipe at home!

Culture and Arts

Russian culture is often tradition-driven. Traditions govern everything from how many flowers to give a woman (always give an odd number of flowers as even numbers are for funerals) to how to drink a bottle of vodka (typically for a specific celebratory reason, like a birthday or closing a business deal).

Russia is known all over the world for its thinkers and artists. Most people are familiar with Leo Tolstoy, who wrote the formidable War and Peace. Or Fyodor Dostoevsky, who wrote another weighty book, Crime and Punishment. With these and numerous other titles, Russian culture has created an immense impact on world literature.

As one of the main trademarks of Russian culture, ballet has a special place in the hearts of most Russians. The first ballet school was opened in St. Petersburg in 1738. A few decades later, another school opened in Moscow – starting a rivalry between the two cities and their ballet traditions.

Since the beginning of Russian ballet tradition, the attitude towards ballet dancers/actors in Russia has been very reverent. Performances are often chosen to see a particular ballet dancer. In the Soviet times, tickets to performances with UlanovaPlisetskaya, and Maximova were sold out instantly.

Maslenitsa (also known as Butter Lady, Butter Week, Crepe week, or Cheesefare Week) is a folk holiday akin to Russia’s Mardi Gras. Children play games, grandmothers cook up big stacks of pancakes, and cities hold festivals during which the effigy of “Lady Maslenitsa” is burned to welcome springtime weather and the return of the sun. The date of Maslenitsa changes every year depending on the date of the celebration of Easter, and the celebration signals the exit of winter, heralding the coming of spring.

Paraguay

Did you know that the State of Kansas and the Republic of Paraguay have been sister states under the sponsorship of Partners of the Americas since 1968; and the Kansas-Paraguay partnership has consistently been recognized as one of the most active partnerships among the fifty states in Partners of the Americas? The Kansas-Paraguay exchange program in education has brought hundreds of Paraguayan students to Kansas colleges and scores of Kansas college faculty to Paraguay.

Annually, Global Ties KC hosts visitors from this beautiful South American nation. Notable alumni include Young Leader of the America’s Initiative (YLAI) participants Tatiana Rodriguez (2018) and Gustavo Diaz (2017). Gustavo Díaz and his wife founded El Cántaro. an organization and art shop that advocates for, and empowers, over 28 artisan families throughout Paraguay. Working closely with indigenous communities and traditional artisans, El Cántaro collaborates with the community to refine quality control and fulfillment of their popular works, while donating a large portion of their proceeds to a Paraguayan art school.

Fast Facts: Paraguay

  • In addition to Spanish, Paraguay has a second official language – Guarani
  • The Paraguay River is the 2nd longest river in South America
  • Paraguay is one of only two landlocked countries in South America
  • Paraguay receives almost 100% of its electricity from hydroelectric power
  • Paraguay’s motto is Paz y Justicia, or in English: “Peace and Justice
  • Paraguay is home to the world’s largest rodent called the Capybara
  • Find more facts about Paraguay herehere, and here!

Cuisine

A staple of Paraguayan cuisine, mbejú (meaning ‘cake’ in Guaraní), is a starchy cake-like patty made with mandioca flour, crumbled cheese, pork fat, eggs and milk and then fried in hot oil. You’ll most likely find it served alongside mate cocido (a bitter herbal tea) or coffee.

Paraguay’s most quintessential export, tereré is a bitter herbal tea known as yerba mate brewed with cold water. It’s an absolutely vital element of Paraguayan culture and is enjoyed by pretty much everyone. You’ll spot locals carting around thermoses filled with chilled water for on-the-go Yerba mate. Intensely caffeinated, this infusion is a great pick-me-up, had throughout the day.

Dulce de mamón is a flavorful, syrupy-sweet Paraguayan dessert made by boiling papaya in water and sugar. The combination is simmered for at least two hours on low heat until the fruit develops a soft texture. It is recommended to add cloves, orange juice, or lemon zest to the dessert in order to bring a zing to the flavor.

If you want to make your own Dulce de mamón at home, try this recipe here.

Culture and Arts

Paraguay’s cultural heritage can be traced to the extensive intermarriage between the Spanish settlers and indigenous Guaraní. Their culture is highly influenced by various European countries, including Spain. Therefore, Paraguayan culture is a fusion of two cultures and traditions; one European, the other, Southern Guaraní.

The main characteristic of Paraguayan culture is its fusion of both the Guaraní and Spanish traditions. Folklore, the arts, and literature reflect this dual origin. The country’s outstanding handicraft is the production of ñandutí lace, which represents a combination of needle lace-making techniques from Europe with Guaraní traditions.

Social life tends to revolve around the family. Godparents are particularly important; if parents become unable to provide for their children, godparents are expected to assume responsibility for them.

In the urban areas of Paraguay, modern, Western-style clothing is primarily worn. However, traditional garments are often adorned in rural areas. Rebozo, a traditional shawl, is worn by rural women over a simple skirt and blouse or dress.

Dresses with Nanduti lace work are worn on special occasions by Paraguayan women. Bombachas – loose trousers – are traditionally worn by men with a shirt or jacket. Neck scarves and ponchos are also popular accoutrements.

Typical Paraguayan folk music derives from two separate traditions: the polka – of European origin, generally upbeat – and the guarania – which has a slower, swaying beat, created during the 1920s.

The initiator of this music was renowned Paraguayan musician Jose Asuncion Flores, who was influenced by tango music which he heard in neighboring Argentina. You can visit the Arpa Roga culture center in Asuncion to learn more about the role of the Paraguayan harp in the country’s traditional music.

Did You Know?

Paraguay is the only country worldwide whose national flag has different emblems on each side. The country’s Coat of Arms is on the front and its Treasury Seal is on the back with its motto, ‘Paz y Justica’ (Peace and Justice). Paraguay’s flag is one of the world’s oldest national flags!

Polynesia

We are elated to be deepening our Kansas City ties to Polynesia on an ongoing basis. Here are some of our existing connections!

In 2016, the docuseries, “In Football We Trust” – surrounding Polynesian high school football players – was released. Polynesian high schoolers right here in KC were interviewed following a screening about how their culture was depicted. Here’s what they had to say.

Global Ties KC has hosted a handful of Polynesian visitors in programs in Kansas City – from Preserving International Stability, to Women in Entrepreneurship!

Fast Facts: Polynesia

Food and Drink KC Polynesian Eats

The earth oven, or ground cooking, is a popular cooking method used by the Polynesian community. With few resources, this cooking technique instills great smoky flavors while tenderizing the meat. Using only heated rocks or coals buried in the ground, these earth ovens can cook an entire pig in about eight hours.

Paifala (half moon pineapple pie) is a empanada shaped pastry filled with pineapple and sugar. This treat can be served during family gatherings, celebrations, or just for a night in. If you want to make a half moon pineapple pie at home, check out this recipe!

Learn more about Polynesian cuisine, here and here!

Culture and Arts

In Hawaii, hula is a cultural icon and features colorful costumes with grass skirts, and graceful hand movements. Originally a male-only dance, the hula is now an expression of happiness and fun that can be performed by everyone. The ancient form of the hula known as hula kahiko is accompanied by percussion and storytelling and is featured in ceremonies or for religious reasons. Costumes are far more colorful in this version and piano guitars or ukuleles provide a rhythm.

Hawaiian cultural values also include terms like akahai, which defines a person’s demeanor as modest, gentle and unpretentious. Also important is lokahi, meaning harmony and peace, and ahonui, which means patient and enduring.

In Tongan society, funerals are of enormous cultural significance. In contrast with the taboos regarding death and dying in Western society, death in Tonga is met with matter-of-fact acceptance and a highly ritualized grieving process. Mourners can be easily spotted, with customs requiring that Tongans dress in black and wear a ta’ovala (a mat wrapped around the waist and tied with rope), some of which almost reach the neck and face.

 Kinship ties have paramount importance. Parents are the main caretakers of their children, although members of the extended family will contribute to raising the child. This shared parenting method extends beyond the village and may include Tongans abroad who send remittances back to their homeland.

Māori culture is the customs, cultural practices, and beliefs of the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand. Odds are that you’ve probably already heard of the Haka, a ceremonial war dance of the Māori people which consists of synchronized stomping and chanting combined with vigorous physical motions. Haka is often used as means to greet notable guests, honor significant achievements, or pay respect at occasions or funerals.

In Samoa, the traditional culture is a communal way of life based on Fa’a Samoa, the unique socio-political culture. In Samoan culture, most activities are done together. The traditional living quarters, or fale (houses), contain no walls and up to 20 people may sleep on the ground in the same fale. Women play an important part in contributing with their skills in items of important cultural value including ‘ie toga, finely woven mats used in ceremony and gift exchanges.

Did You Know?

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is Samoan!
In fact, he brought the Haka to his film, “Hobbs and Shaw”, where he hired Samoan dancers to perform alongside him. He also speaks Samoan in the film – all to his mother who was waiting just off camera, crying with pride.

Italy

Italian immigration to Missouri began in the 1890s, as there was a wealth of jobs in railroad development. Here, they originally settled in the Columbus Park neighborhood, which is known to this day as “Little Italy”. Find out more about what Columbus Park was like in its Heyday via Flatland!

The Italian community became a vibrant hub of business and political power, but it was not without its downfalls, as mob violence also became an Italian feature of Kansas City history that cannot be ignored. The Mob Museum in Las Vegas has a whole section dedicated to the Italian mob that helped shape early KC. To read even more on the subject, check out The Mafia and the Machine, by Franke Hayde.

The Consular Corps of Greater Kansas City (CCGKC) exists as a group to promote and foster goodwill and cooperation between participating countries and the United States. Our Honorary Vice Consuls for Italy are Gino R. Serra and Robert Serra.

Every year, join the Italian community for Festa Italiana at Kansas City’s Zona Rosa. Festa provides an ideal environment to experience great authentic live entertainment, delicious Italian food, outstanding desserts, beverages, vendor and historical informational booths.

Global Ties KC has hosted Italian leaders as guests in Kansas City for a number of programs in the last few years, including “U.S. – European Security Issues“, “Women and Entrepreneurship“, and “International Crime Issues“.

Fast Facts

  • Italy’s capital city, Rome, was founded in 753 BC
  • Rome has an estimated 300,000 cats – they are considered a part of the city’s bio-heritage and allowed to go wherever they like!
  • Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world
  • The Flag of Italy’s tricolor design represents hope, faith, and charity
  • Italy is home to the most UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world
  • The first ever shopping mall was built in Rome around 110 AD
  • Italy was a monarchy until 1946
  • Find more facts about Italy herehere, and here

Liberation Day

Celebrate La Festa della Liberazione, or Italy’s Liberation Day, on April 25th! This day in 1945 marks the first nation-wide radio announcement encouraging a popular uprising against the Nazi occupation and Fascist regime. This announcement lead to the capture and death of Fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, three days later. Read more about the history and celebration, through the Italian Culture Center.

Food and Drink

Ragu alla Bolognese, also known simply as Bolognese, is recognized as the national dish of Italy, and it enjoys widespread popularity by Italians both domestically and abroad. This recipe comes from the Chez Panisse Café, and it’s number one ingredient? Patience!

Originating from a small local bar in the province of Novara in the 1800s, Campari is now a widely favorite drink in Italy and across the world. Made from a mixture of herbs, spices, fruits and alcohol, Gaspare Campari formulated the bitter recipe for the drink that later took over Italy and Europe by storm. Learn how to make it – and other popular Italian drinks!

KC Eats

Kansas City is rife with Italian food – so much so, that we couldn’t pick what to highlight! So, we leave that up to EatKC to tell us all what to try, here!

Culture and Arts

Italy has an important place in the international art scene, with several major art galleries, museums and exhibitions. Italy is home to 54 World Heritage Sites, the largest number of any country in the world. Art can be viewed in every corner of Italy, not only in the museums of Florence, Venice and Rome, but also in the churches and public buildings.

The most famous piece of art is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican, which was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. The great names in Italian art through the centuries include, among many others, GiottoDonatelloFilippo BrunelleschiMichelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Music and dance have always formed an important part of Italian culture and folklore. Italian music takes different forms ranging from opera, to folk music over popular music and religious music. Italy has played a significant role in the history of European music. Many music instruments, such as the violin and piano, were invented in Italy.

The art of Opera and many music terms – sonnet, concert, quartet – were also born in Italy. However, Italian folk music also forms an important part of the country’s musical heritage, offering a diverse array of regional styles and instruments. Folk music has always been a way to express local identity and address cultural, political and social issues.

Italians are full of life and they like to celebrate, so there are a lot of national Italian holidays. Each city or region celebrates its own holidays, such as the feast day of their patron saint, in addition to nationwide holidays.

Venice has one of the top carnival festivals in the world, but Carnevale is celebrated in many Italian towns. Viareggio, on the coast of Tuscany, is known for its elaborate floats, and parades are held on several weekends.

Italian family life can be characterized by loyalty and closeness. Whether they are meeting in the square or at someone’s house over a large dinner, family life in Italy is one of the foundations of their culture. Even though there is increasing migration with some families geographically separated, the family is still the center of the social structure providing unity and stability. Especially in the South of Italy, where it’s common that extended families live together.

Did You Know?

In 2017, Italian pianist Dino Masso and jazz musicians in the Kansas City area created a collaborative album titled Echoes of Europe. Find out more about the musicians and album in this “Arts and LIfe” edition of KCUR.

 

Israel

The State of Israel is the only Jewish nation in the modern period, and the region that now falls within its borders has a lengthy and rich history that dates from pre-Biblical times. The Israeli and Jewish communities in the Kansas City area have become a crucial part of our community.

As early as 1839, several Jews had found their way to the settlement of Wyandotte, Missouri, which would not be renamed “Kansas City” for another 50 years. Among the earliest Jewish residents was Reuben E. Hershfield, the commander of nearby Fort Leavenworth during the Civil War.

Since 1920, the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle has provided its readers with Jewish news and opinion from a variety of perspectives — from local to international. The newspaper has chronicled the successes of Kansas City’s Jews and their tremendous impact on the community as a whole. From its inception, The Chronicle covered the diverse events of the times, from the Holocaust and Israeli-Arab wars to local celebrations such as the opening of the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in 1966 and the opening of the Jewish Community Campus in 1988.

Kansas City’s first Jewish neighborhood was in the city’s North End, but by the 1930’s, most Jews had gravitated toward the south side, and since the 1960’s, the movement has been across the state line into the Kansas suburbs. If the community can be said to have a nerve center, it is the Jewish Community Campus in Overland Park.

Ramla, Israel, and Kansas City became official sister cities in 1998. The Ramla Committee helped create the “Let the Children Play” program, encouraging Jewish and Muslim Kansas Citians to collect toys to be distributed to children of all faiths in Ramla.

Fast Facts
  • Israel is the only country in the world that has more trees today than it had 50 years ago
  • Israel has more museums per capita than any other country, including the world’s only underwater museum
  • Israel is home to the world’s only theater company composed entirely of deaf and blind actors
  • Life expectancy in Israel is among the highest in the world
  • The small but hardy cherry tomato was developed in Israel in the 1970s
  • The cell phone was developed in Israel
  • Find more facts about Israel herehere and here!

Cuisine

An Israeli fusion cuisine has developed from a fusion of Jewish styles of cuisine and many foods traditionally eaten in the Middle East. The main, hearty meal is lunch, rather than dinner. Jewish holidays influence the cuisine, with many traditional foods served at holiday times.

Shabbat dinner, eaten on Friday night, is a significant meal in a large number of Israeli homes. While not all Jewish individuals in Israel keep kosher, the observance of kashrut influences the menu in homes, public institutions and many restaurants.

Israel’s universally recognized national dish is falafel: deep fried balls of seasoned, ground chickpeas. Falafel was a favorite “street food” for decades and is still popular as a mezze dish.

By the 1950s, to earn a living, Yemenite immigrants in Israel started making falafel in the streets, selling it wrapped in paper. This transformed this ancient dish into an early form of Israeli fast food. If you want to make your own falafel at home, try this recipe!

Culture and Arts

Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish culture, and its culture encompasses the foundations of many Jewish cultural characteristics, including philosophy, literature, poetry, art, folklore, and festivals.

Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are considered the main cultural hubs of Israel. The New York Times has described Tel Aviv as the “capital of Mediterranean cool,” Lonely Planet ranked it as a top ten city for nightlife, and National Geographic named it one of the top ten beach cities.

With over 200 museums, Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world, bringing in millions of visitors annually. Major art museums operate in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Herzliya, as well as in many towns and Kibbutzim.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra plays at venues throughout the country and abroad, and almost every city has its own orchestra.

Hebrew theater, unlike literature, did not exist in ancient Hebrew culture, nor did it grow out of the Yiddish theater so popular in Eastern European Jewish communities up to World War II. It began with the founding in 1917 of a Hebrew theater, Habima, and has grown to be a big part of the culture.

The most important Israeli entertainment story, however, is the continuing success of the Israeli-made movies and the emergence of the television industry as a global powerhouse. Watch what’s streaming!

Folk Dance is popular in Israel, and Israeli modern dance companies are highly acclaimed in the dance world, and have even won international acclaim. Notable Israeli dance companies include the Batsheva Dance Company and the Kamea Dance Company.

People come from all over Israel and many other nations for the annual Karmiel Dance Festival every summer. What started as an Israeli folk dance event, the festivities now include performances, workshops, and open dance sessions for a variety of dance forms and nationalities.

 

 

Somalia

Visitors and residents, alike, are surprised to find that the Kansas City metropolitan area is home to one of the largest communities of Africans in the Midwest. The first waves came from Nigeria, followed by Sudanese and Somalians making the most recent and largest addition to the cultural fiber of the city.
Fast Facts: Somalia
  • Somalia has the longest coastline in mainland Africa
  • The official languages of Somalia are Somali and Arabic
  • Somalia is one of the most ethnically homogenous countries in Africa
  • More than half of the residents of Somalia are farmers, herders, and independent business owners
  • In Somalia, people often perfume homes after large meals or on special occasions when guests are visiting their homes
  • Find more facts about Somalia herehere and here

Cuisine

The cuisine of Somalia is the product of Somalia’s rich tradition of trade and commerce. Despite the variety, there remains one thing that unites the various regional cuisines: all food is served halal. This means: no pork, no alcohol, no blood, and nothing that died on its own.

Lunch (make your own qado) is often an elaborated main dish of pasta or rice spiced with cumin, cardamom, cloves, and sage. The diffused use of pasta, such as spaghetti, comes from the Italians. It is frequently presented with a heavier stew than the Italian pasta sauce and is often served with a banana.

In Somalia, Arab cuisines such as fava beans with kimis, or white bread with hummus, is very popular. Other popular dishes include falafel with hummus or are eaten with pita bread, salad and hummus (like a sandwich).

Southern Somalis commonly consume a soft cornmeal referred to as soor or asida. It is mashed with fresh milk, butter and sugar, or presented with a hole in the middle filled with maraq, or olive oil.

Culture and Arts

Henna is an important part of Somali culture. It is worn by Somali women on their hands, arms, feet and neck during weddings, Eid, Ramadan, and other festive occasions. Somali henna designs often feature flower motifs and triangular shapes. The palm is also frequently decorated with a dot of henna, and the fingertips are dipped in the dye.

For centuries, Somali scholars have produced many notable examples of Islamic literature, ranging from poetry to Hadith. Numerous contemporary Somali authors have also released novels which have gone on to receive worldwide acclaim.

Of these modern writers, Nuruddin Farah is probably the most celebrated. Books such as From a Crooked Rib and Links are considered important literary achievements, works that have earned Farah the 1998 Neustadt International Prize for Literature among other accolades.

In the Somali language soo maal, a common greeting of welcome, refers to the act of milking, offering a guest the opportunity to milk an animal and get himself something to drink. Somalis traditionally offer a milky tea and burn incense to welcome visitors.

Referred to as Somaliwood, this cinematic movement has energized the local movie scene. Popular movies from Somaliwood include slasher thriller, Xaaskayga Araweelo, and the action-comedy, Rajo and Warmooge, the first Somali animated film. See what’s streaming in Somali film and TV, here.

 

Greece

One of the earliest Greek Communities in the United States began in Kansas City in 1908 with over 5,000 Greeks living in the Kansas City area. Most of the early community were railroad workers who congregated in the area near 5th and Wyandotte. Many of the early community members banded together to form the first Greek Orthodox community. The Greek Community of Kansas City owns and maintains the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Kansas City, MO as well as the St. Dionysius Greek Orthodox Church in Overland Park, KS

Fast Facts 

  • Official Name: Hellenic Republic
  • Greece is one of the sunniest places in the world, according to MSN Weather
  • Athens is known as the oldest capital city in Europe
  • Ikaria, Greece is one of five regions identified as having the world’s healthiest, happiest, and longest-living populations
  • There are 18 UNESCO world heritage sites in Greece
  • The first philosopher is considered to be Thales of Miletus (c. 624 – 425 B.C.)
  • Find more facts about Greece herehere and here!

Food and Drink  

Taramasalata is a traditional Greek dish made of fish roe, olive oil, lemon juice, grated onions and bread. It’s often served on Shrove Monday – the first day of Lent – though, it is a very popular dish throughout the year. Make it at home, and explore additional Greek dishes, here!

Ouzo is a famous Greek drink made from a base spirit of grapes before being flavored with anise. It’s a sweet, strong alcoholic drink that consists of pure ethyl alcohol with a distinct licorice flavor. It is often served without ice and in a tall, skinny glass, and is affectionately called “ouzaki”.

Art and Culture

Greek Mythology was part of the religion in Ancient Greece. The most popular Greek Mythology figures include Greek Gods like Zeus, Poseidon & Apollo, Greek Goddesses like Aphrodite, Hera & Athena and Titans like Atlas.

In fact, Greece’s capital city of Athens is named after Athena – the Greek goddess of wisdom!

Sirtaki is a popular Greeke dance. It was created by the Greek musician, Mikis Theodorakis, in 1964 for the movie “Zorba the Greek” – a mixture of slow and fast versions of Hasapiko dance. Learn about the history of Sirtaki here!

Relax (or dance) to the sounds of traditional Greek instrumentals here.

Greek cinema has a long history that has experienced occasional international success obstructed in times of war and political instability. Five Greek films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, while two have won the Palme d’Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Recognizing the significant contribution of the audiovisual sector to a country’s economy, Greece recently introduced a cash rebate for productions to incentivize them to spend money and hire talent in Greece. This is set up similarly to KC’s incentive program to attract filmmakers from around the world.

Check out this list of great Greek films, and catch what’s currently streaming in Greek TV and film!

The Greeks made important contributions to philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. They are known for their sophisticated sculpture and architecture. Literature and theatre were important aspects of Greek culture, influencing modern drama. Greece is so culture-rich, that we couldn’t dream of fitting everything into this email. Learn a little more on all of the above, here!

The Olympic Games, which originated in ancient Greece as many as 3,000 years ago, were revived in the late 19th century and have become the world’s preeminent sporting competition. Explore the history, traditions, and find out which sports were invented there!

To connect further with Greece and Greek culture from right here in KC, check out:

KC Eateries

Páros Estiatorio
Tasso’s
Zaina
Never on Sunday
Aladdin Café
Mr. Gyros
Happy Greek
…and more!

Chile

Chile is a nation near and dear to the hearts of our Global Ties KC staff based on our many local connections and years of strong exchanges.

The Kansas City Latin Jazz Orchestra was formed to preserve and perpetuate the art forms and traditions of Latin American and Salsa music as it exists in conjunction with the cultural expressions of folkloric and community dance. They advocate for and demonstrate the local and international cultural relevance of these art forms within the historical evolution of jazz through cultural immersion, community engagement, youth education, and performance.

The Latino Arts Foundation exists to bring artists and folks of Latin American descent here in Kansas City together, as well as show off their work to the wider community. They have free youth and adult programming throughout the year that culminates in the annual Latino Arts Festival!

Kansas City’s Honorary Chilean Consul is Mr. Robert William Evans, a former Global Ties KC board member and long-time friend of the organization. Honorary consular officers are U.S. citizens and are generally appointed to provide a degree of Consular representation in areas not covered by career consular officers. All consular officials are accredited by the U.S. Department of State in accordance with the terms of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

In the last 5 years, Global Ties KC has hosted over 10 programs in which Chilean participants traveled to Kansas City. These programs include – but are not limited to – multiple WEAmericas Program for Women Entrepreneurs, Transparency and Accountability in Government, and our Youth Ambassador Program with Argentina and Chile (YAPSA).

Because of our YAPSA program, the Lee’s Summit School District set up their own immersive exchange program with Chile, taking dozens of LS students out of the country for an authentic experience with a foreign language. This isn’t just a one-sided program: students from Chile are welcomed to Lee’s Summit on a bi-annual basis. Visiting students and teachers are paired with families in the district, attend classes, and are shown a slice of Midwestern life.

YAPSA

On six occasions in the last 10 years, a group of around 15 high school students from Argentina and Chile traveled to Kansas City to learn about multiculturalism and civic engagement, while participating in leadership development. For each of these programs, Global Ties KC partnered with a local high school to engage these students with their peers. Partner schools include Park Hill, Olathe East and Lee’s Summit North. They participated in exercises to understand how multi-ethnic communities can live in harmony. There are dozens of students who have lasting impact stories from their KC trip – from continuing relationships to chasing their dreams. Look for some of these stories across the Global Ties KC social media pages over this coming week!

Fast Facts
  • In Chile, You Can Find the Driest Place on Earth, The Atacama Desert
  • Chile’s Andes Mountains Has Some of the World’s Largest and Still Active Volcanoes
  • Chile Has One of the Longest Coastlines in the World
  • The Oldest Mummy in the World is from Chile
  • Has the southernmost town in the world, Puerto Williams
  • Chile is one of the only governments in the world with an official department dedicated to research into UFOs
  • Easter Island off the Chilean coast is the most remote inhabited island of the world
  • If you want to learn more interesting facts about Chile, check them out herehere, and here!

Cuisine 

This week, we are starting with the national drink: the Pisco sour! Chile and Peru both claim the pisco sour as their national drink, and each asserts ownership of the cocktail’s base liquor—pisco; consequently, the pisco sour has become a significant and oft-debated topic of Latin American popular culture. But, it will always be a favorite in Chile. Make one at home.

Seafood is very prominent in Chilean cuisine – most notably mussels, clams, scallops, oysters, and a long list of others that can be bought fresh every morning at the fish markets.

Curanto is one of the most popular dishes in Chile, a stew that combines seafood, meat and vegetables. It’s very popular at parties, and if you want to make your own, check out this recipe!

Chile is not just for seafood lovers. Empanadas are snack-sized turnovers filled with meat, cheese, or shellfish, and are a staple of daily life, not to be missed. Fresh-baked bread, in a variety of styles, is available in local panaderias in even the smallest towns. A surprising variety of excellent sandwiches make for good, quick meals.

Culture and Arts 

Art in Chile works as a reflection that safeguards the cultural heritage of the country. Local indigenous art is part of Chile’s cultural heritage. Found in markets and sold as souvenirs we can find pieces of lapis lazuli jewelry, colorful cotton and wool textiles and skillfully handcrafted baskets.

One example of a piece of folk art that has a powerful meaning in Chilean culture is a type of tapestry known as arpillera. Arpilleras are decorative wall pieces made of burlap or other coarsely woven fabric such as sackcloth, depicting everything from the lives of the poor and oppressed, to cultural revolutions and historical records.

The country of Chile has such a dramatic and beautiful landscape – in fact, it has become one of the most inspiring subjects for artists. The legacy was especially embraced by the muralists who dominated the art scene during the 60’s and 70’s, among them Roberto Matta who became one of the most prominent figures of Chilean painting.

Sculpture has also been prominent in Chile’s culture. In the 19th century, sculptor Rebeca Matte was the first Chilean woman to embrace the art, and was commissioned to produce a piece by the government of Chile as a gift to the government of Brazil – called “Icarus and Daedalus” (United in Glory and Peace).

Chile’s most popular sport is association football. Chile has appeared in nine FIFA World Cups which includes hosting the 1962 FIFA World Cup where the national football team finished third. Colo-Colo is the country’s most successful football club, having both the most national and international championships, including the coveted Copa Libertadores South American club tournament.

Chilean traditional music has been highly influenced by Andean music and by many indigenous cultures who lived around the area occupied by the Inca Empire. Traditional music has a dominant role in religious celebrations, which, in this zone of the country as in many other parts of the Americas, blends pre-Columbian and Christian forms of celebrating holy days.
Check out a playlist of Chilean music!

 

Empanada Madness – Empanadas
El Pueblito – Ceviche
Piropos – Choripán

Croatia

Situated in the heart of downtown Kansas City, Kansas, Strawberry Hill is a Slavic American community with a rich and unique history. According to the Strawberry Hill Neighborhood Association, during the late 1800’s, immigrants from Eastern Europe – a large number of them from Croatia – settled along the riverfront in an area known as “The Patch.”  Most of these residents worked in the meat packing industry connected with the livestock exchange.

Sugar Creek, Missouri is also home to many Slavic communities in the Kansas City area. According the Sugar Creek Slavic Fest, In the early 1900s, a settlement was forming around a new Standard Oil refinery, located on the banks of the Missouri River. For many Slavic families, this brought the promise of the American Dream – the chance to work, provide a good education for their children and practice the religion of their choice. The new town of Sugar Creek reminded residents of home, with rolling hills, open spaces and a climate similar to their Slavic homeland.

Today, Strawberry Hill is home to Strawberry Hill Baking Company (try the Povitica), renowned Croatian painter Marijana Grisnik, and St. John’s Catholic Club – a haven for Croatian folks in the metro area, and home to the biggest celebrations around Croatia’s 2018 World Cup run.

Kansas City, KS is Sister Cities with Karlovac, Croatia, the University of Kansas has more than 30 years of involvement in Croatian language programs, and Greater Kansas City has an Honorary Consul to the Republic of Croatia in Dr. Judith Vogelsang – who was an integral part of Global Ties KC as a board member for many years!

Fast Facts

  • Croatia has 1246 islands
  • Croatian money is named Kuna because trappers used to trade kuna (a type of ferret) furs
  • Croatia invented the necktie
  • Croatia is home of the world’s smallest town called “Hum”
  • Nikola Tesla was born in the Croatian village of Smiljan
  • A Croatian holds the Guinness World Record of the biggest white truffle
  • At least 10% of the land in Croatia is made up of 8 national parks, 11 nature parks and two nature reserves
  • Rice chocolate was invented in Croatia
  • Croatia is focusing on increasing the number of digital nomads as tourism – here’s how
  • Find more facts about Croatia here, here and here!

Food and Drink

Croatia has culinary influences of Italian and other Mediterranean cuisines, which prominently feature seafood, cooked vegetables and pasta, and condiments such as olive oil and garlic. Austrian, Hungarian, and Turkish foods have influenced continental cuisine in terms of meats, freshwater fish, and predominant vegetable dishes.

The national food of Croatia is Peka. This tender meat & vegetable dish is also called ispod čripnje (under the bell) – meaning food that is cooked under a terracotta or iron lid over burning embers. Peka can include octopus, lamb, veal or chicken, and is often accompanied by potatoes – make your own at home!

Povitica (poh-vee-TEET-sah) is a sweet or savory pastry  made with a yeast-raised dough that is stretched out thinly and then spread with a filling. It is then rolled up jellyroll-style in a log or crescent shape, and baked in a loaf or Bundt pan.

Finely ground walnuts sweetened with honey or sugar is the traditional filling, which is why they are often referred to as nut rolls.

Make them at home with this instructional video or recipe, or put an order in at Strawberry Hill Povitica (shipping nationally).Because it borders the former Ottoman Empire, Croatia is a country of coffee drinkers. Traditional coffee houses similar to those in Vienna are located throughout Croatia. Today, the Turkish method is still by far the preferred way to enjoy coffee in Croatian homes.

Based in Zagreb, Franck has been the major commercial producer of roasted and ground coffee in Croatia ever since it began coffee production in the 1960s. It more or less monopolizes the supply of coffee to café bars across Croatia

Culture and Arts

Croatia has just as many different sports to keep the locals active and energized as the country’s diverse terrain. Sports have played a significant role in Croatian culture. Passionate fans enjoy rooting for their local sports clubs as well as the national teams. From picigin to water polo (with soccer being the most popular sport), here’s a list of must-see sports in Croatia.

Croatian folk dance is characterized as being relaxed, gentle, and relatively easy to learn. It’s mainly a social dance involving groups or groups of couples, often designed for large gatherings. With many dances, the singing of jocular verses during the performance served as a way to express feelings or tell a story.

Kolo (the circle dance) is a traditional, collective folk dance performed by dancers who are interlinked to form a chain, usually moving in a circular line holding hands with their arms down. It is an activity that involves all members of the local community.

Croatians enjoy music of many varieties, ranging from folk to opera, jazz, and rock. In Croatia and among the Croatian diaspora, traditional music features the tamburitza, a stringed instrument similar to a mandolin.

The music of Croatia, like the divisions of the country itself, has two major influences: Central European, present in central and northern parts of the country including Slavonia, and Mediterranean. In Croatia, both pop and rock are popular, as well as pop music influenced by Dalmatian or Slavonian folk elements.

Croatian culture is steeped in art of all forms. In Early Middle Ages, Croatia was an important centre for art and architecture in south eastern Europe. There were many Croatian artists during the Medieval period, and the arts flourished during the Renaissance. Later styles in Croatia included Baroque and Rococo.

 

 

Denmark

Danish immigration to Kansas began in the 1850s. Immigrants came from the Danish islands and the peninsula Jutland, and belonged generally to the laboring class. Not long after they began to arrive in the midwest, Denmark, Kansas – one of the first permanent settlements in Lincoln County – was settled by a group of Danish Lutherans, where buildings preserving that history still remain.

Closer to the Missouri border is the Strawberry Hill Museum and Cultural Center. It celebrates and preserves the cultural history of many nationalities of Kansas City residents, including the Danish! Though closed to the public due to the pandemic, you can get a virtual tour of the museum!

The Consular Corps of Greater Kansas City (CCGKC) exists as a group to promote and foster goodwill and cooperation between participating countries and the United States. Our Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of Denmark – for Kansas and western Missouri – is Karen Nielsen.

Global Ties KC has hosted Danish leaders as guests in Kansas City for a number of programs in the last few years, including “U.S. – European Security Issues” and “Exploring U.S. Values Through Food“.

International Women’s Day

In 1910, a second International Conference of Working Women took place in Copenhagen. The conference hosted over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, and working women’s clubs. It is here that the idea for International Women’s Day was born to have a celebration each year and press for women-centered/supporting demands. It was met with unanimous approval, and the first International Women’s Day took place the very next year, in 1911.

Today, we celebrate by showing appreciation for the women in our lives, ingesting content (books, movies, education, etc) by women, as well as advocating for gender parity in all areas of life. Celebrate with us – this year and every year – on March 8th!

Fast Facts: Denmark

  • Denmark’s capital and most populous city is Copenhagen
  • Copenhagen also happens to be the world’s most bike-friendly city
  • According to the World Happiness Report, It is the second happiest country in the world
  • The Flag of Denmark holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest continuously used national flag
  • First country to legalize same-sex unions
  • The minimum age requirement to purchase alcohol in Denmark is 16 years in shops and 18 years in bars and restaurants
  • Health care and education in Denmark are universal and free of charge. Sometimes Danish students are even paid to study!
  • The Danish monarchy is one of the oldest in the world
  • Find more facts about Denmark here, herehere and here!

Food and Drink

Denmark is known for its Smørrebrød, which literally means “bread with butter”. But, it’s more than that. It is an open-faced sandwich invented by workers who couldn’t go home for lunch and would use leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. Pålæg(lay-on) refers to the toppings – fish, vegetables, meat, cheese, whatever you prefer – with buttered rye bread as the typical vessel.

Try the recipe for a smoked salmon version. Learn more about the Smørrebrød – with even more recipes – on KCUR’s “Marketplace“. Check out some other traditional Danish dishes to try, here!

Denmark’s Faxe Kondi is a top beverage choice on a warm day. It has been Denmark’s most popular soda since it was introduced in the Danish Market in 1971 by beer company, Royal Unibrew. It has the refreshing taste of lemon and lime, and is marketed as an energy drink – though that energy is pure sugar!

Regional Danish Selections

Though a few Scandinavian eateries have popped up here and there around the KC metro area, nothing comes close to checking out your nearest European market! Find a list of regional markets – and more on smørrebrød, here!

Culture and Art

Denmark’s Nordisk Film Kompagni, founded in 1906, is the oldest film company still in operation. Today the government-supported Danish Film Institute is the heart of a vibrant Danish film industry, with three films having won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

Take a peek inside Danish history and its monarchy with the Oscar-nominated film, A Royal Affair (2012). Directed and written by Nikolaj Arcel, it is a historical drama which depicts a risky love affair between Queen Caroline Mathilde and the royal physician.

Here’s a list of 10 Great Danish Films from the BFI!

Danish design is identified by its simplicity, functionality and elegance. It finds its origin in the willingness of major designers from the 1920s and 1930s to create functional furniture based primarily on the specific needs of the human body. The result was a line of very high quality furniture, mostly made of wood, inspired by nature and sustainability.

The architect and designer, Arne Jacobsen, was a vanguard on the minimalist Danish design, which included furniture, architecture, fashion and jewelry. As part of the European functionalism, Arne constructed a design that blended aesthetic ideals, sustainability and functional attributes.

You can find a Danish design collective locally at Kanso.

Denmark’s strong literary tradition encompasses sagas, medieval folk songs, and, in the 19th century, Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen is probably still the most widely read Danish writer today. His children’s tales – including The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Princess and the Pea – gained him worldwide fame and are a continuing source for plays, ballets, films, visual arts and bedtime reading.

A Unicef report ranked Danish children’s wellbeing third highest among industrialized countries – just behind the Netherlands and Sweden. One of the key reasons for their quality life is a mandatory national program called Step by Step. Through this program, children as young as preschool age learn empathy, problem-solving, self-control, and how to read facial expressions, enhancing relationships and helping them to better connect socially.

Festivals

There is a pretty heavy festival culture in Denmark. With well over 14 festivals annually throughout the country, there is something for everyone! The Roskilde Festival – known as the first music-dedicated festival in Denmark – was created in 1971 by two high school students and a promoter. It lasts for eight days in June, and has hosted countless performers, including Bob Dylan and Nirvana. As it has grown into the largest music festival in Northern Europe, it is now organized by The Roskilde Festival Charity Society and all profits are donated to humanitarian and cultural projects. Check out VisitDenmark’s own list of must-attend music festivals!

Did You Know?

Denmark has its own Kansas City – a music venue in Odense! And, it’s not just a music venue. It is also a training space for emerging musicians to learn the ins and outs of marketing, garnering support, and more. With the overarching goal to raise awareness both inside and outside of Odense about the cultural and creative forces in the city, it’s a pillar of not only the music scene, but the culture of arts.

 

 

Dominican Republic

Engineers Without Borders Kansas City Professional Chapter (EWBKC) supports a drinking water project in La Cuchilla in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic Medical Partnership (DRMP) of Village Church in Prairie Village Kansas has provided nearly 25 years of healthcare and health education to children and adults living in the impoverished bateys (communities of Haitian sugarcane workers and their families) in the Dominican Republic. They promote sustainable healthcare efforts alongside Dominican partner organizations!

Artist Emily Alvarez – the daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and one of the few Latina muralists in Kansas City – makes it a point to paint images of people like her and her family to help establish their place in KC society. Alvarez’s works are on display in several public spaces in Kansas City.

Global Ties KC has hosted a multitude of Dominican guests over the last several years for programs such as “WEAmericas Program for Women Entrepreneurs”, “Global Health-Building”, and “Transparency and Accountability in Government”!

Celebrate: Independence Day!

Celebrate the Dominican Republic’s Independence Day on February 27th (that’s this coming Saturday!). In 1844, a group of Dominicans who were part of a secret society named “La Trinitaria” started a crusade to overthrow the Haitian regime and declare Dominican Republic’s independence. On February 27, 1844, the Trinitaria declared sovereignty from Haiti, and they achieved their final independence in 1865.

Fast Facts

  • The Dominican Republic is the second largest island of the Greater Antilles chain in the Caribbean Sea.
  • The nation’s capital is Santo Domingo on the southern coast.
  • Dominicans affectionately call their home “Quisqueya”, meaning “mother of all lands”.
  • It’s the site of the oldest colonial settlement in the Americas, and home to Christopher Columbus’s first New World landing point in 1492.
  • More firsts in the Americas: First Catholic cathedral, first university, first hospital, and the first capital city (Santo Domingo).
  • Remember the amber stone with a prehistoric mosquito preserved inside from Jurassic Park? That’s fossilized tree resin, which is on display at the Amber Museum in Puerto Plata.
  • Find more facts about Dominican Republic herehere and here!

Food and Drink

Mangú is a traditional Dominican dish made of mashed plantains with olive oil. It’s often served as breakfast alongside eggs, fried Dominican “salami” and fried cheese as a dish called Los Tres Golpes (the three strikes). Want to make it at home? Find the recipe here. Explore additional Dominican dishes, here!

Mamajuana is a famous Dominican drink made of dark rum, red wine, spices and honey. In addition to being an aphrodisiac, it was originally used as a health herbal tonic by shamans. It is believed to rid you of the flu, aid digestion and circulation, cleanse the blood, liver and kidneys, and energize.

Art and Culture

Merengue is the national music and dance of the Dominican Republic. Originally played with guitars and other string instruments, folks in Puerto Plata added accordions, and it evolved into the art form that it is today!

Learn about the history of the Dominican Merengue directly from their Ministry of Culture!

The most popular sport by far in Dominican Republic is baseball or “pelota“. For Dominicans, baseball is more than a sport, “it’s a limitless passion, a love for country and unity.” Many train hard with hopes to join Major League Baseball (MLB) here in the U.S. and take care of their families back home.

The KC Royals had their very own Dominican superstar pitcher during their 2015 World Series run in the talented Yordano Ventura. When he passed away unexpectedly in 2017, the team traveled to his hometown for the service.

In fact, the Royals have a long history with the Dominican Republic, running a summer league rookie affiliate, the KC Royals Dominican Academy!

Some of the people who emigrated to work in cane fields came from small islands like Antigua, Martinique, and Tortola. They influenced the inhabitants of San Pedro de Macorís with their food and folklore. From this rich cultural melting were born The Guloyas, an artistic group/event where the members are characterized by wearing colorful costumes and by joyous and contagious dances. Their wardrobe is characterized by a colorful costumes where red, yellow, blue, green and orange predominate, these clothes are decorated with small mirrors, colored ribbons, capes and long hats made with feathers!

An important festival for Dominicans is the Guloya Festival, which takes place in the first day of the year to celebrate the beginning of a new year. It is a mourning procession through the streets of San Pedro’s Miramar barrio, which is extremely colorful and loud. UNESCO has listed this festival as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Patrimony of Humanity”.

Iraq

The people, culture, and the many identities of Iraq deserve celebration and appreciation. In many ways, the history of Iraq is the history of all humanity and is the foundation for many modern ways of life even today.

In addition to International Visitor Leadership Program participants, Global Ties KC has welcomed visitors from the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP), which brings Iraqi high school students to the U.S. for a four-week summer exchange to explore themes of leadership development, civic rights and responsibilities, respect for diversity, and community engagement. While in the U.S., these students stay in local homes and participate in engaging meetings and activities.

Fast Facts: Iraq

  • Iraq is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the Middle East.
  • Baghdad served as the center of learning during the Islamic Golden Age, and was the largest multicultural city of the middle ages.
  • In Arabic, the name Iraq means “deeply rooted, well watered; fertile.”
  • Production of honey and its trade is a major industry in Iraq.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh is a poem from ancient Mesopotamia, Iraq. It is often regarded as the earliest surviving great work of literature.
  • Find more facts about Iraq here, here, and here!

Food and Drink

Quzi, a rice-based dish, is served with very slow cooked lamb, roasted nuts, raisins and served over rice.  It is considered one of Iraq’s national dishes. If you are interested in making Quzi, here’s a recipe!

Iraqi cuisine has a long history dating back around 10,000 years. Traces found in ancient ruins in Iraq have revealed recipes prepared in temples during religious festivals and are considered to be the first cookbooks in the world. Currently, Iraqi food is strongly influenced by its neighboring countries, Turkey and Iran. Like the Turks, Iraqis like to stuff vegetables and eat a lot of lamb, rice, and yogurt. Similar to Iranians, they enjoy cooking fruits with beef and poultry.

KC Regional Eateries

Kansas City does not currently have any Iraqi-specific eateries that we are aware of. However, there are multiple Middle Eastern restaurants locally that carry Iraqi dishes. There are a few in the links above (as well as dish recommendations)!

Culture and Arts

Iraq has long reflected cultural diversity. Although Iraqis generally are religious and culturally conservative people, there are strong secular tendencies in the country. There are many values that are honored in the Iraqi culture, including generosity and humility. Men commonly hold hands or kiss when greeting each other, but this is typically not the case for men and women. Respect is given to the elderly and women, especially those with children.

Many markets reflect local culture and economy such as the famous Al-Safafeer market in Baghdad which is one of the oldest markets in the city established during the Abbasid Caliphate and remains famous for various copper collectables and exhibits.

Several institutions in Iraq boast the recreational culture of live theatre. Notable institutions in Baghdad include the Iraqi National Orchestra and the National Theatre of Iraq. Cultural education is fostered through institutions such as the Academy of Music and the Institute of Fine Arts.

In 1969, the Baʿath Party made a concentrated effort to create a culture designed to establish a new national identity that reflected the territorial roots of the Iraqi people. Independent Iraqi artists and intellectuals had started a trend similar to this in the 1950s.

Playwrights, novelists, film producers, poets, and sculptors were encouraged to demonstrate the historical and cultural connection between the modern Iraqi people and the ancient peoples and civilizations of Mesopotamia.

The National Museum of Iraq chronicles the development of human civilization with artifacts from the Sassanid, Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Akkadian and Ottoman dynasties as well as Stone Age and Prehistoric artifacts.

Football (soccer) is the most common sport in Iraq. The Federation of Iraqi football was officially established in 1948 and joined the International Federation of FIFA two years later. The Iraqi soccer team has had many major achievements. These include going to the finals in the World Cup in Mexico in 1986, winning the Asian Cup in 2007, and winning fourth place in the Olympic Games in 2004, the highest achievement of any Asian team.

Iraqi music has its historic roots in ancient traditions but has continued to evolve through various eras. From creation of the oldest guitar in the world and the invention of the lute, to adding a fifth string to the rhythms and the various Iraqi maqams, Iraqi music proves to be an important part of the country’s culture.

Until the fall of Saddam Hussein, the most popular radio station was the Voice of Youth, which used to play the popular music of Iraq to continue the culture of the country. Iraq also produced a major pan-Arab pop star in exile in Kadim Al Sahir, whose songs include Ladghat-e Hayya

Did You Know?

Iraq is home to the world’s first writing system and recorded history! The system is called cuneiform.

 

China

According to the Kansas City Chinese Journal, a Chinese cultural community existed in Kansas City prior to World War II.

In the 1960s, a new wave of immigrants arrived, most employed as scientists and technicians in area medical institutions like University of Kansas Medical Center and the Midwest Research Center at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Many present day arrivals, a strong professional class, are lured by the availability of high-tech jobs by such firms as Garmin and T-Mobile, as well as the blossoming health sciences opportunities.

Kansas City is sister cities with both Xi’an and Yan’an in China. The Xi’an Sister City Committee is also the originator of the dragon boat racing tradition each spring on Brush Creek. Kansas City journalist Edgar Snow was the first western journalist to give a full account of Yan’an’s The Long March in 1935, which resulted in the birth of the Chinese Communist Party.

For more than 40 years, the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation at UMKC has worked to enhance the vital relationship between the US and China by increasing understanding and friendship between the citizens of these two great nations in the spirit and memory of Kansas City-born journalist Edgar Snow.

The United States Heartland China Association (USHCA) – headquartered in Jefferson City, MO – is a 501(c)3 bipartisan organization committed to fostering and supporting a positive, productive, and mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and China by creating more channels of collaboration – connecting government officials, business leaders, educational and community interests – and opportunities for economic growth in the American Heartland Region.

Chinese New Year 2021

Chinese society celebrates their New Year – also known as the Spring Festival, marking the end of the coldest days – according to the Lunisolar Calendar on Friday, February 1 this year. People welcome spring and what it brings: planting and harvests, new beginnings and fresh starts. Celebrations culminate with the Lantern Festival on February 15, 2022.
The Kansas City Chinese Association premiered their original New Year performance film, “Home,” during their recent online New Year celebration. This film collects diverse cultural performances and expresses the thoughts of overseas Chinese about home and Lunar New Year. All actors in the film are Kansas community art groups, residents and families

Fast Facts: China

  • Capital: Beijing
  • Political system: Communist Party of China (CPC)
  • Language:  Chinese exists in a number of dialects that are usually classified as separate languages by scholars. These languages include Mandarin in the northern, central, and western parts of China; Wu; Northern and Southern Min; Gan (Kan); Hakka (Kejia); and Xiang; and Cantonese (Yue) in the southeastern part of the country.
  • China has a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
  • The population of China as of January 28th, is 1,442,524,751 – 18.47% of the total world population. China has the highest population of any country on Earth.
  • China has the second largest economy, only following the US.
  • Find more facts about China here, here, here and here!

Food and Drink

Dumplings were invented by a famous doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, Zhang Zhongjing, just over 1,800 years ago. They’re made of small dough wrappers stuffed with meats or other ingredients – often pork.

What made Zhang famous though, was the fact he distributed dumplings to his patients until the coming of the Chinese New Year, turning it into a traditional Chinese New Year food. Try making some at home with this recipe!

Fun Fact: the pronunciation of dumpling (饺子, jiao zi) phonetically refers to the turning point between the old year and the new year.

While coffee has become more popular across China in recent years, the culture of tea is still an intricate component of Chinese society. While tea etiquette is not as strictly followed today as in years past, there are some basic rules that are worth knowing the next time you drink tea with friends. If you want another cup of tea, never serve yourself without serving other guests first. However, if your dining partner is immersed in a conversation with another dinner guest, do not interrupt by asking if they want more tea. Just pour it. When setting down the tea pot, it is considered rude to point the spout of the tea pot at anyone. Instead, point the spout between you and the person next to you..

Learn more about unique Chinese teas, and get to know other drinks popular in China!

Culture and Arts

The dragon dance – originated during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.) – started as a ceremonial dance for worshipping ancestors and praying for rain. Dragons are believed to have control over water, rain, hurricanes and floods. They also represent power, strength and good luck. The Chinese believe that performing the dragon dance during festivals and celebrations drives away evil spirits and ushers in good luck and blessings for the community. Click on the image for a video!

China has a vast film industry that rivals that of Hollywood. In addition to Chinese films, China is a competitive contender for filming locations, as well as special effects artists (having a hand in the post-production of many Hollywood films – which is why many films that are currently streaming are listed as Chinese films).

We want to highlight one Chinese documentary in particular: One Child Nation. This is a documentary film directed by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang about the one child policy – an official program of the central government of China that ran from 1979-2015 – which aimed to curb the rising population within the country. Wang serves as both the narrator and the protagonist, where she shows her family and friends demonstrating how they handled this governmental policy.

Learn about the affects of this policy on the lives of Chinese people here and here. Now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Another way to better understand another culture and history is through literature.

The Secret Piano: From Mao’s Labor Camps to Bach’s Goldberg Variations is an autobiography written by Zhu Xiao-Mei, a Chinese classical pianist prodigy and teacher, around her lived experience of the closure of art schools and deportation from China to labor camps.

Check out more Chinese literature – and books about China and Chinese experiences – here.

Did You Know?

The social media platform, TikTok, is a Chinese company. TikTok is an app for making and sharing short videos – an easy-to-use app filled to the brim with filters – that blew up in popularity largely due to folks seeking connection and entertainment in a quarantined world.

Watch American actress, Reese Witherspoon, get hilariously educated about TikTok by her son!

Poland

You may have heard of a neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas known as Polish Hill. This is because it was mainly founded by immigrants from Poland in the late 1800s/early 1900s. They were mainly from Podkarpackie Voivodeship and migrants from the small township of Pulaskifield, Missouri who were also of Polish ancestry. All Saints Catholic Parish is the former St. Joseph that was founded by the Polish community, and is the fixture on that hill – and why it’s named Polish Hill.

For over thirty years, the residents of Polish Hill have celebrated Polski Day with a parade and food festival during the first week of May each year to commemorate the signing of the Polish Constitution. Today, the community is mainly Hispanic, but continues the Polski Day tradition, resulting in Cinco de Mayo celebrations featuring kielbasa and sauerkraut.

In the last five years, Global Ties KC has welcomed visitors from Poland for at least 10 programs, including U.S. Foreign Policy and Decision-MakingPoland: Trends in the U.S. Higher Education System, and multiple Women and Entrepreneurship programs!

Check out our Global Spokes international discussion from June 4th, 2020: A Conversation on Women-Led Innovation with Ms. Agnieszka Pugacewicz, Ph.D., coordinator of the Entrepreneurship Lab at the University of Warsaw. Agnieszka visited Kansas City for one of the Women in Entrepreneurship program we hosted in the last few years.

Fast Facts

  • “Poland” originates from the name of the tribe Polanie, which means “people living in open fields”
  • Poland currently has a Parliamentary Republic government
  • Poland adopted its first written constitution in the spring of 1791…the second constitution in the world!
  • Marie Curie was actually Polish
  • You can still eat at Europe’s oldest restaurant in Wroclaw. The Piwnica Swidnicka has been open since 1275
  • The unofficial traditional polish food is Zapiekanka – a baguette topped with cheese and mushrooms and smothered in garlic mayo and ketchup
  • Find more facts about Poland hereherehere and here!

Food and Drink

Pierogi, boiled dumplings, are very flexible and can be stuffed with a number of savory or sweet fillings, including potato and cheese, sauerkraut, cabbage, spiced meats, and even fruits and berries. Because pierogi freeze well, they make quick, satisfying last-minute meals. If you just can NOT wait for the cooking class on Thursday to make these, you can find a recipe, here!

And, if you were really intrigued by the Zapiekanka in the Fast Facts section of this email, here’s a recipe.

Mushrooms are a popular feature of Poland national cuisine. Forget about the bland mushrooms you get at Western supermarkets – mushrooms that grow naturally in Poland are full of flavor. Polish people seek out their mushrooms in the forest; a tradition that usually involves the whole family.

The autumn mushroom season’s harvests offer restaurant chefs the opportunity to include Polish mushroom delicacies on their menus. Be sure to sample dishes featuring mushrooms if you travel to Poland in the fall.

Culture and Arts

During World War II, occupiers looted and destroyed much of Poland’s cultural and historical heritage while persecuting and murdering its people. Nevertheless, underground organizations and individuals worked to salvage as many cultural institutions and artifacts as possible, while underground cultural activities – including publications, concerts, live theater, education, and academic research – continued throughout the war.

Venetian painter Bernardo Bellotto was made court painter to the King of Poland in 1768, creating beautiful and accurate paintings of Warsaw’s buildings and squares. Nearly 200 years later, those paintings were used to help rebuild the city following its destruction in the second world war. Rubble was used to produce new bricks for the modern quarter, and architectural details from demolished buildings were put on reconstructed facades. History and art literally rebuilt a war ravaged capital.

The earliest surviving Polish feature film, Antoś for the First Time in Warsaw, was made in 1908, and its première, October 22, 1908, is considered the founding date of Polish film industry.

During World War II, Polish filmmakers in Great Britain created anti-Nazi color film Calling Mr. Smith (1943) about lies of Nazi propaganda. It was one of the first anti-Nazi films in history being both avant-garde and documentary film.

In November 1945 the communist government founded the film production and distribution organization Film Polski, and the film industry has developed over the years with film groups, the Polish Film School movement, and a current strong film sector that is luring productions from around the world. Discover what Polish films to watch next here and here!

Despite the attempts to break the Polish national spirit over the centuries, the Polish people have prevailed and flourished. The key to overcoming this struggle was art and literature, which rekindled hope by preserving patriotic and cultural patterns with metaphor and symbolism.

Check out the in-depth Impact of 100 years of artistic creativity on Polandhere.

Over the course of history, the musicians of Poland have developed and popularized a variety of folk dances and music genres, including the sung poetry genre (poezja śpiewana).

Interest in Poland’s traditional folk music has seen revival, with traditional Polish folk music festivals cropping up around the world (including KC’s very own Polski Day). These festivals also incorporate dances and folk costume into their repertoire, with grand competitions throughout!

Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in Poland, with a rich history of competition. The Men’s national team is ranked second and the Women’s team is ranked 28th in the FIVB World Rankings.

Did You Know?

Composer Frédéric Chopin, Pope John Paull II, and physicist and chemist, Marie Curie (who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity) are all Polish!

Vietnam

Within Kansas City, there are some enclaves with a uniquely Asian presence. The Northeast area of the city, long a gateway community for many immigrant groups, has a close knit community of Vietnamese families, in particular the Columbus Park area. The Hmong community, numbering more than 3,000 people, has strong roots in KCK. Both groups came to the area following the end of the Vietnam War.

To connect further with Vietnamese culture right here in Kansas City, check out:

TET: Vietnamese New Year

Vietnamese Lunar New Year – or simply Tet Vietnam – is the most significant festival in Vietnam. As a result of being calculated by the lunar calendar, Tet festival often occurs at the end of January, which is later than New Year’s Day. Tet Vietnam is the most wonderful occasion for all foreign tourists to spend their vacation in Vietnam enjoying the festive atmosphere and exploring one of the oldest festivals in the world.

Fast Facts: Vietnam

  • Vietnamese cuisine is considered some of the healthiest in the world
  • Vietnam is the world’s leading exporter of cashews and black pepper
  • Motorbikes are the most common form of transport
  • The Vietnamese flag has a lot of meaning behind it. Consisting of a gold star with five points, each point representing: farmers, workers, intellectuals, youth, and soldiers. The red background pays tribute to bloodshed during war
  • Vietnam is the only country with a deity for the kitchen: Ong Tao!
  • Vietnam is a diverse country with 54 different ethnic groups
  • Find more facts about Vietnam here and here!

Food and Drink

Aside from pho and banh mi, gỏi cuốn (spring roll) is one of the most iconic of Vietnamese dishes. Like all of Vietnamese cuisine there are regional differences. At its core, it consists of rice paper, softened in water that is rolled around a filling of rice vermicelli, raw vegetables and fresh herbs (Vietnamese basil, coriander and mint), with a protein, such as roast pork or prawns, and served with a dipping sauce. Make it at home, today!

Just like many countries in Latin America, Vietnam is a huge exporter of coffee beans. It is, in fact, the world’s second-largest coffee-producing nation after Brazil, producing 16% of the world’s total coffee.

As well as exporting it, the Vietnamese also love to consume it and have accordingly developed a rich culture for consuming coffee. The most common is through a small metal drip filter called a “phin cà phê”, which is then served (either hot or cold) with condensed milk used as a sweetener.

The most unique way of drinking coffee in Vietnam, is the famous egg coffee of Hanoi. You read right – the “ca phe trung” is served with egg yolk whipped into the condensed milk, which originated in the 1940s when milk was scarce.

Walk long enough through the night market in Hoi An, Vietnam, and you will eventually spot white-eyed cobras in glass bottles. These bottles contain snake wine, a strong alcoholic beverage that can be found all over South China and Southeast Asia that has long tradition as a medicinal drink.

Distilling a snake’s “essence” into wine is said to cure everything from rheumatism to hair loss. The drink is also widely touted as an aphrodisiac that enhances virility.

Wine-makers typically use one large snake per bottle. They might throw in roots, berries, and herbs to enhance the flavor or healing properties, or add smaller snakes, scorpions, or geckos. After filling the bottle with rice wine, they’ll leave the resulting brew to steep for months. The resulting elixir is meant to be sipped slowly and savored.

Get Your Fix In KC

Vietnamese cuisine includes a wide variety of spices, sauces and flavors. However, you can boil it down to two clear, distinct influences: fresh vegetables and seafood. Traditional Vietnamese food in Kansas City is similar to what you’ll find anywhere else with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and spicy, earthy flavors. And, while we may not have a snake wine spot, we’ve got plenty of Vietnamese options, including a new, female-owned Vietnamese Coffee truck!

Culture and Arts

Imperial court music is an integral entertainment form in the Vietnamese court during feudal times. The most outstanding form of royal music is “refined music” or “nha nhac”, which is recognized as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage by UNESCO.  The refined music was first performed in the 13th century, and includes an array of string instruments supported by percussion.

Accompanying Nhã nhạc are intricate dances of the Vietnamese Imperial court. While court dances existed before nhã nhạc in particular emerged, it is the Nguyễn Dynasty form that is still highly preserved today, and has been declared along with the whole of nhã nhạc as an Intangible cultural heritage. These dances require great skill and the dancers are often dressed in extravagant costumes. Learn more about traditional Vietnamese dance!

Vietnam has a very well-developed tradition of martial arts that is heavily influenced by Chinese martial arts: the “Viet Vo Dao”. It is associated with intense spirituality because of its close association with Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

The traditional Vietnamese art of silk painting originates from painting and drawing on home made rice paper. It emphasizes softness and elegance that is greatly influenced by the quality of silk used. Today this art has become famous around the world for its simple poetic themes and vibrant colors. Vietnamese artists find the technique to be a unique way to create mystique in their paintings.

Although Vietnamese film only receives a humble amount of attention on the international stage, the country boasts many visually stunning and powerful movies. And while an important part of the country’s history, the topics of films go far beyond the war. Here is a list of “best” Vietnamese films, as well as what you can stream from home right now!

Tanzania

Kansas City is rich with African culture and heritage, with historic ties with parts of Eastern Africa, including Tanzania.

Tanzanian Celebrations 

Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar are the best places to enjoy Tanzanian holidays, particularly the latter with its Muslim-majority populace. In July you can witness the Mwaka Kogwa and the Festival of the Dhow Countries, while the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti starts in December. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, sees action during the Kiliman Adventure Challenge in February.

Here’s a list of holidays and festivals to celebrate – whether you are traveling the world or celebrating from home!

Fast Facts

  • United Republic of Tanzania is the official name, but the geographical East African country is mostly known as Tanzania.
  • A safari Mecca populated by the “big five” game (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino)
  • The political system is republic
  • Africa’s highest mountain – and the highest free-standing mountain in the world – is Mt. Kilimanjaro
  • Jane Goodall studied the behavior of free-living chimpanzees in Tanzania and her studies are the longest running study of its kind in the world
  • Positioned within the African Great Lakes region, Tanzania is surrounded by three of the world’s most magnificent lakes – Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Nyasa
  • For more fun, fast, and historical facts, click here

Food and Drink

Mchicha is the most popular traditional dish. It is a thick and creamy vegetarian meal prepared with leafy vegetables, coconut, peanut butter, tomatoes and onions. It is served with rice or ugali (maize porridge).

Typical foods include rice, ugali, grilled meat, marinated beef, fish, spiced rice, biriyani and plantains.

Other popular and favorite dishes to try are Zanzibar pizza, a spiced fish dish called Mchuzi wa samaki, a street food made of French fries and eggs is Chipsi mayai, and Ndizi na nyama, a popular dish using plantains or bananas and meat. Learn more about these dishes, here.

Tea is the most popular drink in Tanzania with the locals preferring chai. Coffee is another favorite and is often sold by street vendors. Local beers include Kibo Gold, Serengeti Lager and Tusker. You’ll find locally brewed mbege – beer made from fermented bananas – in bars on the lower slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Culture and Art

Oral storytelling (more on the cultural significance, here) and dancing are important cultural pieces in Tanzania, especially in the rural population where the radio is the primary medium to receive national and international news.

Check out this video of traditional Haya Tribal Dancing, and learn more about the Haya people!

The University of Dar es Salaam has an active theatre arts group.

Southern Tanzania and Zanzibar are famous for abstract ebony carvings and elaborate carved doors and chests. Check out TanzanianFineArt.com for more!

Stories of East Africa are seldom-chronicled in modern literature (though you can find a list here), but it is still a crucial part of understanding history and culture of the region.

Parched Earth by Elieshi Lema is a story of gender politics from a local level in Tanzania. Written by a Tanzanian women, this novel is imbued with insight and touchstones about the female condition.

A finalist for the 1994 Booker Prize, England’s highest honor for works of fiction, Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah is a tragic love story and a tale of the corruption of African tradition by European colonialism.

Tanzanian music is known for being vibrant and full of life. There is a wide variety of genres created throughout the country, including gospel, Bongo Flava, mtindo, taarab, hip hop, and more.

Bongo Flava is a genre of music developed in the 1990s in Tanzania. It is derived from American hip-hop with the incorporation of traditional Tanzanian styles (taarab and dansi). Today it remains the most popular music style for Tanzanian youth.

Over the last 10 years, the award-winning musician, Diamond Platnumz, has popularized  the uniquely Tanzanian offering of “bongo flava”. And with more than 43% of Tanzania’s 55 million people having access to the internet, mainly via mobile smartphones, there is a huge home-grown Swahili-speaking audience ready to lap up his love songs.

As of June, 2020, he is the first sub-Saharan African singer to get one BILLION views on his YouTube Channel!

Did You Know?
Beyoncé’s visual album, “Black is King”, featured appearances/collaborations by Tanzanian musicians, including Vanessa Mdee and Diamond Platnumz! Learn more about this project and the prominent African figures who took part.

Film and Television

Tanzania’s film industry, also called Swahiliwood and Bongowood was established in 2001. Most films are low budget productions and are released on disc formats. Movies are an important form of entertainment, with martial arts and Indian movies being the most popular.

In 2001, Tanzanian film, Maangamizi: The Ancient One, was submitted for Best Foreign Film for the Academy Awards.

The Zanzibar International Film Festival hosts films, workshops, exhibitions, Dhow races, music and performing arts annually, but you can stream Tanzanian works from your own home, today!

Sport

There are several world class runners from Tanzania, however, the most popular sports are boxing and soccer. Dar es Salaam and Dodoma have friendly soccer rivalries on and off the field, and Mwanza has a football club named Mbao F.C. (“mbao” meaning “wood”).

Speaking of Mbao, Tanzanians play a game popular throughout Africa called Mbao, a mancala game similar to chess. The object of the game is to “eat” all of the opponent’s seeds on a wood board.

  • Black Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City (BCCGKC)

Mexico

There are over 55,000 Latino and Hispanic people in Kansas City! You can see the Mexican and Latino communities influence all over Kansas City, in our art, music, architecture, and more!

  • Kansas City has been a center of interest for the Mexican government since the days of the Santa Fe Trail. The first Mexicans to arrive in the area were traders traveling along the trail coming to Independence in the 1820’s and 1830’s.
  • Starting in 1915, Mexican migrants arrived to Kansas City in large numbers to work for the city’s railroad and meat packing companies. Several female reformers banded together to form a social service organization, known as the Guadalupe Center, to aid these arrivals. The Guadalupe Center has continued to be a mainstay of the Mexican and Mexican American community in Kansas City. Learn more about Mexico to Kansas City migration history.
  • The prosperity of Kansas City has come not only from the cultural enrichment of Mexican immigration, but also from the economic ties between Kansas City and Mexico. Kansas City Southern, whose headquarters are located in Quality Hill, is the smallest of the remaining major North American railways, yet the only one to own track in both Mexico and the United States. The railroad and its subsidiaries provide arteries for the flow of trade between the two countries, running a total of $534 billion in 2014.
  • Funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) through the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, the Police Professionalization Exchange program is designed to provide training and professional development to 3,900 Mexican police officials from 2017-2021. There was an in-person component in Kansas City with Global Ties KC in 2018. We recently conducted a follow-up joint interview with Damon Daniel (President, Ad Hoc Group Against Crime) and Al Brooks (Founder, Ad Hoc Group Against Crime) to share with law enforcement officials in Mexico as programming continues virtually. Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to be updated with this full, fascinating conversation goes live on Thursday!
  • Learn more about murals in KC by Latino artists HERE

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos (Day of The Dead) is a Mexican holiday celebrated by many Latin American and European countries from October 31st – November 2nd. The multi-day holiday is rich with traditions, and involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember loved ones who have died, and to help support their spiritual journey. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. Mexicans view it not as a day of sadness but a celebration of life and a way to remember loved ones who have passed.

Learn more about the rich history of this holiday, and celebrate it virtually with the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art’s 10th annual Día de los Muertos celebration!

How Not to Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

Due to the dates and thematic elements of the events, some associate Dia de los Muertos with Halloween, despite the occasions having separate origins and meanings. At Halloween parties, one can expect to see at least a few people with make-up modelled after calaveras, decorative, floral skulls that are prevalent during Dia de los Muertos, while fancy dress shops often market Day of the Dead-themed costumes, accessories and decorations as Halloween paraphernalia.

However, the celebration is “definitely not Mexican Halloween”, and many Halloween costumes are, in fact, culturally appropriating or culturally insensitive.

Learn more about the difference between Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, and make sure to educate yourself and friends on cultural appropriation, in order to avoid insensitivity and offending others.

Fast Facts: Mexico

  • Mexico’s official name is the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos)
  • Government: Federal Republic
  • Capital: Mexico City
  • Population: 126.2 million
  • Mexico is composed of thirty-one states and a Federal District
  • Over 63 indigenous languages are also spoken throughout the country!
  • Mexico is home to Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico, and third highest in North America at a whopping 18,491 feet!
  • It is believed that Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is the site of the dinosaurs’ mass extinction
  • More facts HERE and HERE 

International Exchange

Jovenes en Accion is a summer youth program sponsored by the Department of State Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs. This program has existed for over a decade and is designed for students leaders throughout Mexico. They come to the United States to develop their capacity to create change through a specific program theme. Kansas City, specifically Global Ties KC, has hosted this program annually since 2014. Through this program, Kansas City has helped high school students in Mexico create community projects related to Preventing School Drop Outs, Methodologies for English Language Teaching, Increasing Youth Financial Literacy, and Preventing Domestic Violence. Due to the long-standing relationship between Kansas City and this program, it has fostered lifelong relationships and connections between our two countries.

The Hales Family hosted Wendy during the 2018 Jovenes en Accion program. During that two weeks together, they were able to bond through shared experiences and informal diplomacy.

Since then, they have reconnected on several occasions and the two host sisters will even be roommates when they go to university!

Food and Drink

Mole Sauce is a popular dish in Mexico with a very interesting story. The story of its creation is that a group of nuns were thrown in to a panic when they realized they did not have any food prepared and the archbishop was coming to visit them. They quickly threw a bunch of random spices together and created the popular sauce known today.

Want to learn more about Mole sauce?
Click HERE or HERE to hear the story behind the traditional dish and click HERE to make it yourself!

Tequila is popular all over world- but did you know that it can only made in Mexico? Per the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Tequila can only be produced in Mexico, and the Mexican Government takes any potential infringement on that agreement very seriously. Though some alcohols may be similar to Tequila, they can not legally be called Tequila! It is made from the Blue Agave plant – which takes 6-10 years to mature!

Learn more about the history of Tequila dynasties HERE, and more fast facts, HERE

Culture and Arts

Frida Kahlo is one of the most famous artists of all time. She grew up in Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico. Her art is often described as surrealist. She is known in part for her many self portraits that represent the themes of identity, death, pain and sexuality.

Frida Kahlo’s art has been featured in Kansas City many times, if you would like to learn more about KC’s “Frida-Mania” check out THIS article by KCUR. Learn more about Frida Kahlo’s life HERE.

Want to read stories about Mexico and Mexican Americans by Mexican Americans? Check out this list of Contemporary Mexican Novels! We’ve highlighted a few below.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an award winning coming of age novel set in the 1980s about two Mexican-American boys and their journeys to accepting themselves in a very unaccepting world.

Leaving Tabasco by Carmen Boullosa
is an a coming of age story about a girl who grew up a magical town in Mexico full of witches and transfiguration. She tells the story of her childhood while living in Germany.

Umani by Laia Jufrusa
is a story about grief told from many different points of view, it is set in Mexico City.

Mexican Cinema

Época de Oro del Cine Mexicano (The Golden Age of Mexican cinema) refers to a period in history between 1933 and 1964 when the Mexican film industry reached high levels of production, quality and economic success of its films. Mexico became the center of commercial films in Latin America during this time.

Since then, the film industry has continued to boom – even with the competition of the United States – and have put out amazing work, including the 10 Academy Award Winners in the image above!

Like Water for Chocolate, directed by Alfonso Arau, is a must see Mexican film. Set in the early 1900s, it follows the story of a woman named Tita as she struggles with her familial tradition and love. Check out the novel this film is based on, HERE.

Get a brief Introduction To Mexican Cinema In 10 Films, check out this list of Mexican streaming film and TV, and tune into Telemundo KC!

Sports and Movement

Charrería is the national sport of Mexico. It was started as a way for farmers to showcase their herding and riding abilities. It was made the national sport of Mexico in 1933 and remains popular to this day.

Learn more about Charrería.

The Jarabe (often referred to outside of Mexico as the Mexican Hat Dance) is a Mexican folklore dance most popular in Central and South Mexico. It is a dance of courtship in which the female dancer is coy while the man is attentive and energetic.

Learn more about the Jarabe, and watch a performance of the Jarabe, here!

 

South Korea

Conservatively, more than 30,000 Asian-Americans with ties to China, Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos and Japan call Kansas City home. Columbia, Missouri is Sister Cities with Suncheon, and Missouri is Sister States with the Republic of Korea’s Jeollanamdo Province. In fact, the two have worked as sister states since 1986. The Republic of Korea is among Missouri’s top trade partners and received $428 million in Missouri exports in 2019

Hangul Day 

October 9th, Hangul Day (한글날), is a day set aside to celebrate the Korean alphabet, known as Hangul. Once you learn the history of Hangul, you will see why it is so important to Korea and Korean culture!

Fast Facts: South Korea
  • Name: 대한민국  Republic of Korea (ROK)
  • Goverment: Democratic Republic with a presidential system of government
  • Population: 51.8 million
  • Capital (and largest city): Seoul
  • National animal: Siberian Tiger
  • PSY, whose song ‘Gangnam Style’ became a YouTube hit in 2013, is from Korea! In fact, “Gangnam” refers to the city of Seoul
  • The Korean alphabet has 24 letters and the language does not have any articles and does not follow a word order
  • The Korean language is similar to Mandarin and Japanese in that that it is written and read from top to bottom and from left to right
  • Toilet paper is a common Korean housewarming gift!
  • If you want to see these facts and more, click HERE and HERE

Food and Drink

Kimchi (김치) is a collective term for vegetable dishes that have been salted, seasoned, and fermented. The history of kimchi goes back to ancient times. Originated from pickled vegetables, there are now hundreds of kimchi varieties in Korea. Over the last decade or so, Korean kimchi has gained a global recognition as a healthy probiotic food. Kimchi is a good source of useful lactic acid bacteria, has excellent anti-oxidation and anti-cancer effects, and helps prevent aging. Here’s a recipe!

Soju is the national drink of Korea. In fact, it’s the world’s most popular liquor you never knew existed – holding its spot as the number 1-selling liquor by volume. Soju is a clear, 20-24 percent alcohol by volume spirit that is neutral-tasting like vodka, but doesn’t have the harsh alcohol burn thanks to having around half the percentage of alcohol. It’s traditionally consumed straight with food, but also mixes into cocktails.

Culture and Arts

Parasite made history by being the first non- English movie to win Best Pictures at the Oscars. The win was praised by Korean figures across the world, including Korea’s president, and Korean actor, Sandra Oh!

Interested in streaming-accessible Korean films? Check out this list. And this one.

And, what about Korean TV? Dramas are pretty popular here in the US. Here is a list of shows that will reel you in!

If you are a fan of Parasite, you might want to check out this list of “10 Works of Korean Literature in Translation for Fans of Parasite”! But, you don’t have to be a fan of Parasite in order to enjoy contemporary and classic fiction by Korean Authors (two of which are highlighted below)!

Two young women of vastly different means each struggle to find her own way during the darkest hours of South Korea’s “economic miracle” in Everything Belongs to Us.

Set in Korea and the United States from the postwar era to contemporary times, Krys Lee’s Drifting House illuminates a people struggling to reconcile the turmoil of their collective past with the rewards and challenges of their present.

Seo Taiji & Boys debuted on a Korean talent show in 1992, marking the start of modern K-pop, with its integration of English lyrics, hip hop elements, and dance. By 1996, it was a world-wide phenomToday, K-Pop groups continue to break records around the world, especially in the US. And, on top of that? It’s become extremely influential in American politics!

Learn more about traditional Korean music – like Court Instrumental and Shaman and it’s instruments!

At the Nelson

If you haven’t yet, you can view a fairly sizable collection of East Asian art at Kansas City’s Nelson Atkins Museum of Art!
And, though it’s more impressive in person, you can take a digital tour, today!

Heart of America Indian Center d/b/a Kansas City Indian Center

Though there are no reservations in Missouri, Kansas City has a thriving Native American community – a history dating back to 300 CE! Native influence can be found everywhere from the names of our cities and counties (Wyandotte County, Shawnee, Olathe, and more!) to the names of our states: Kansas and Missouri!
  • The Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS was founded in 1884 and currently has an average enrollment of over 1000 Native American Students from KC and all over the country! In fact, a graduate of Haskell Indian Nations University, Connor Veneski, is the first student admitted to Harvard Law School from a tribal university.
  • The Kansas City Indian Center, incorporated in 1971, was founded to keep the cultural, social, and spiritual beliefs of the tribes alive after a formal policy was passed in the 1950’s that terminated reservations in many areas. Today, they work to ensure that Native Americans are staying connected to their culture through encouraging traditional and cultural values.
  • The Shawnee Indian Mission established in 1839 was a training school for Native youth. Now it is a museum that showcases the life of Native Americans in the 1800’s
  • Travois is a business headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., focused exclusively on promoting housing and economic development for Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities. Over the past 25 years they have secured 1.4 billion dollars to help affordable housing.
Connect further with Native American Nations right here in the Kansas City region:

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Indigenous People’s Day on October 12th is a day to celebrate the rich and diverse culture of Indigenous people in the United States. Though it is not yet a federally recognized holiday, many celebrate!
Find out more about the history and celebrations, HERE!
Find out how you can celebrate, HERE!

Fast Facts 

  • There are over 98 tribes represented in the Kansas City metro
  • Kansas Representative Sharice Davids is one of the first  Native American women elected to Congress (in 2019).
  • 0.43% of Kansas Citians identify as Native American – nearly 2,000 of us!
  • Though most official documents refer to Indigenous people as American Indians most indigenous people prefer to be called Native, Native American, or Indigenous.

Food and Drink

Excited that Autumn has finally arrived here in this long year of 2020? This traditional recipe for Otoe Pumpkin & Corn from the Otoe-Missouria Tribe will bring you the taste of Fall – with just FOUR ingredients (one of which is pumpkin)!

Check out: 25 Favorite Native American Recipes  for a variety of traditional dishes to try!

Culture and Arts 

This pair of contemporary shoes is beaded in the tradition of American Indian moccasins. However, a sense of irony is communicated through the artist’s choice of materials and title: Adaptation. By choosing to embellish the product of a high fashion footwear designer, the artist makes two statements.

Jamie Okuma, whose art can be found at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, refutes a stereotype that Native peoples live in the past and lack the sophistication to function in a global society. She also reminds the viewer that American Indians who remain committed to their Native heritage are often required to live in two worlds.

  • See more of Jamie’s work HERE
  • Learn more about the boots, HERE

Want to read books by Native Americans, about Native Americans? We’ve got a list for you, and highlighted a few, below:

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth is a fictional story set in the 1970s about a Tuscarora boy who wants to fit in at his majority white middle school. This book is perfect for younger readers!

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich is an award winning fictional story set on two Ojjibwe reservations, telling the story of two families. This is an adult book and has themes that may be disturbing to younger audiences.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhouse is an award winning fictional story about monster hunting, magic, and more

Native American Television 

Native Americans are very underrepresented in the media. As a result, the Chickasaw and Cherokee nations created their own television networks! If you would like to watch shows about Native Americans by Native Americans these are your places to do it!

If you haven’t yet seen the independent film, Smoke Signals (1998), you are missing out! It’s a coming-of-age AND roadtrip film that broke many media stereotypes of Indigenous people – and it has a groundbreaking, nearly FULL Native American cast.

Sports and Movement

Stickball is a traditional Native American sport that is still played to this day. It began as an alternative to war. Opposing tribes could get together to settle disputes with less deaths than a war would bring. It is similar to lacrosse or hockey, and is a game where “anything goes.”

Learn more about Native American sports HERE.

 

El Salvador

Pieces of the culture of El Salvador can be found in many areas of the Kansas City metro: from some of the best pupusas (the national food of El Salvador), to a shared love of futbol, and even a Latin American Dance community that highlights the sounds and moves of El Salvador at multiple venues across the Kansas City metro area (KC Go! Latin Dance)!

El Salvador holds our hearts here at Global Ties KC, as our El Salvador Youth Leadership Program, in partnership with Scouts BSA was one of the last in-person youth exchanges prior to the pandemic closing the world off, physically, from one another.

El Salvador’s Independence Day
September 15th marks the day when five countries in Central America declared independence from Spain in 1821.

During the American Revolutionary War, there were clashes between the British and the Spanish on Nicaraguan territory, but it wasn’t until decades later that the Peninsula War, and the ousting of King Ferdinand VII from the Spanish throne, allowed revolts in El Salvador and Nicaragua to fight against the Spanish. These revolts led to the Spanish Constitution of 1812, the first step towards Central America’s independence.

In 1821, the provincial council of Guatemala joined forces with other Central American leaders from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras to draft, debate, and ultimately sign the proclamation that would come to be known as the Act of Independence for Central America.

On September 15th, El Salvador begins their Independence Day celebrations bright and early at 7:00 AM (!) with schools participating in a huge parade with dancing and marching, and military parades to commemorate the day!

Find out more about the history and celebrations, HERE!

Fast Facts

  • Smallest country in Central America – smaller than Massachusetts!
  • Has frequent volcanic activity AND earthquakes
  • Capital: San Salvador
  • Type of government: Republic
  • About 90 percent of Salvadorans are mestizo, descendants of Spanish and Indian ancestors
  • Coffee, sugar, corn, rice, shrimp, and beef are the main agricultural products in El Salvador
  • Unlike every other country in Central America, El Salvador is the only one that has no Caribbean coast at all
  • San Salvador’s Estadio Cuscatlan – with a 45,000 capacity – is the largest soccer stadium in Central America
  • The xylophone is the national instrument!
  • These facts – and more – can be found right here, HERE, and HERE (and in any Google deep-dive)

Food and Drink

Pupusas were first created centuries ago by the Pipil tribes who inhabited the territory now known as El Salvador. It is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla (made using masa de maíz, a cornmeal dough used in Mesoamerican cuisine) that is usually filled with a blend of cheese, pasted meat, refried beans, or queso con loroco. Pupusas are typically served with curtido (lightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chilies and vinegar) and tomato sauce, eaten by hand.

On April 1, 2005, pupusas were declared the national dish of El Salvador and every second Sunday of November would be National Pupusas Day. Celebrate Pupusas Day every day at home with this recipe!

The history of coffee in El Salvador is inextricably linked to the development of the nation, itself. Introduced in the late 1880’s, coffee quickly displaced indigo as the country’s chief export, and by the 1920s, coffee accounted for 90% of all El Salvador’s exports.

By the 1970s, El Salvador was the world’s 4th largest producer of coffee; remarkable considering the size of the country. However, politics and over-dependence on coffee for economic growth led to periodic struggles that culminated in a civil war lasting from 1979 through to 1992. Today, coffee is grown across the entire country!

If you’d like to learn more about El Salvador’s coffee history and its nuances, you can RIGHT HERE.

Culture and Arts
El Salvador has a rich musical heritage that ranges from folk music to contemporary music. Salvadoran music exhibits Mayan, Lenca, Spanish, Pipil, and Cacaopera influences. Some of the most popular styles of music in El Salvador are Native Mesoamerican indigenous music, Salvadoran hip hop, and Salvadoran Cumbia. Xylophones, guitars, pianos, flutes, drums, glass harmonica, scrapers, gours, etc., are some of the instruments used to play popular music in El Salvador.

Get a taste of the music of El Salvador, HERE.

If you want to learn about the history of El Salvador, no matter your age, here is a list of titles from Teaching for Change’s Social Justice Books Project!

One title that comes highly recommended is Randy Jurado Ertll’s, Hope in Times of Darkness: A Salvadoran American Experience. This book tells the author’s challenging experience as a Salvadoran American. The author focuses on social justice issues and contends that government, community-based organizations, elected officials, and community leaders can help create hope and opportunities for our youth, and thereby help improve our society.

Want El Salvadoran television recommendations? Look no further.

Association soccer is the most popular – and most watched – spectator sport in El Salvador. Estadio Cuscatlán in El Salvador’s capital San Salvador, is Central America’s largest stadium. It has a capacity of more than 45,000 spectators!

Here’s a little bit of history – and fast facts – about El Salvador’s national futbal team!

Weekly Video Content
In June 2019, Kansas City hosted a delegation of youth scout leaders from El Salvador to introduce them to emergency preparedness tactics of the United States, different leadership methods, Kansas City, and even Washington D.C.! Join us for this quick peek into our time together, where lessons were learned, fun was had, and relationships blossomed that will last a lifetime!

Welcome to Diverse KC!

A Global Ties KC powered initiative, made possible by community input and experiences. This is a free and public tool to shine a light on the vibrant cultures that make up Kansas City. Will you make a commitment to expose yourself to different cultures, explore different communities, and engage with others?

01.

Expose

Do you think of Kansas City as internationally relevant? Answer: we are and you have the ability to serve as a citizen diplomat, right from your home!

02.

Explore

With such a robust international presence in KC, it is easy to miss the culture in your own backyard. Explore the world, without ever having to leave the Midwest.

03.

Engage

Participate in citizen diplomacy with peers both domestically and abroad via authentic, interpersonal experiences. Opportunities exist right here in KC.

Diverse KC Program News

Guest blogs featuring the diverse cultural experiences found right here in Kansas City.

Kansas City Ties to Babyn Yar, Holocaust Memorial in Kyiv

As news in Ukraine continues to unfold, we are keeping close eye on this weeks’ bombing of Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial site in Kyiv. Over …

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Sunflowers, peace, and ukrainians at your table

For the past 68 years, we have worked extensively with civil society and other partners in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and various post-Soviet countries. In the …

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Empowering Women, Uplifting Communities

HealthEd Connect is a small but mighty team based in Independence, MO, working to empower women and children through health, education, and advocacy programs. We …

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Explore specific country ties to Kansas City, including resources on how to get more involved.

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Global Ties KC sends out monthly emails with opportunities and updates regarding the organization, programming and Kansas City – including DiverseKC!

Disclaimer: This website is a work in progress and will always be a work in progress, due to the nuanced nature of culture. Global Ties KC's Diverse KC Initiative is a good-will project and does not guarantee any information on this website, but rather everything is researched and completed with due diligence. We welcome all input and recommendations from the community to create an effective and reflective tool for all.

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A KC Community Initiative, Powered By Global Ties KC

Welcome to Diverse KC!

Kansas City is home to diverse stories, experiences, and cultures. Click through the map to delve into these unique ties and to learn about the organizations that work together to make this city shine.