Alliance Apartments Celebrates Diversity

In March 2018, Alliance Apartments hosted the second-annual Avowal: A celebration of culture. This tenant-led event provides an excellent opportunity to gather for dinner and fellowship, while recognizing the many cultures that come together in the building.

To raise awareness of the diversity event tenants sat in the foyer with coffee and sweets to encourage others. Volunteers announced the Avowal in the foyer. Tenants asking what a “Avowal” is provided an excellent opportunity define it and open a conversation about culture. To encourage attendance and participation, these volunteers asked if tenants would be willing to provide a detail about themselves and their culture for the BINGO game. For example: I speak three languages, or I have attended a Greek wedding, I had to wear a uniform to school every day, etc. When tenants gathered for the event they had to connect with others whose answers could help them fill out their BINGO cards. This game served as a perfect entry point to the event.

The amazing menu played a starring role in the celebration. Staff and tenants shared traditional foods representing their cultural backgrounds. This year included Liberian food, traditional Jamaican jerk, corned beef, greens of many types, Hawaiian turkey, a Polynesian chicken dish, spaghetti, and traditional wild rice from Red Lake.

To continue the conversation about culture and diversity, tenants volunteered to speak on a variety of topics. One of the speakers was a young man from Liberia who had really struggled with sobriety at Alliance. He shared stories about what his lifewas like in Liberia before the war, during the war, and how he became a child soldier. Another gentleman whose family immigrated from Scotland spoke about culture through an unlikely lens: golf. He detailed how golf acts as a bridge in many cultures, how it has been banned in many countries because it is too violent, yet still serves to bring people together to walk in nature. Others shared their personal perspectives a variety of leaders, thinkers, and topics, including Maya Angelou, Malcom X, and the difficulties that John F. Kennedy encountered due to his Catholicism. The event was capped with phenomenal New Orleans jazz.

What makes the tenant-led celebrations at Alliance so amazing is the enthusiasm of the tenants. Watching them come together—many of them coming from tough life experiences—and share their stories, their perspectives, and their knowledge, is truly inspiring. According to Program Manager, Karen Johnson: “At Alliance, we are always trying to find people’s strengths. It is impressive to see them come together for this event, to lead and to share. We watch them break their own stereotypes as they contribute their talents and their wisdom. The staff gets to just sit back and enjoy.” The 2018 Avowal was a tremendous success.