Festival offers many cultures under one roof
Music from Peru and Japan. Dances from Polynesia and Korea. Storytelling from Africa. Cooking demonstrations from Kenya and India, and food from Mexico. Booths and crafts from around the globe.
All of these activities were offered in just three hours Saturday at the Conestoga Recreation Center, where the Beaverton International Celebration took place as part of Beaverton Welcoming Week.
"It's great to meet a lot of people from different countries without traveling far," said Luciana Proaño of Inka Jam, a band that performed music from Peru.
In another room, Wambui Machua, chef of Spice of Africa, helped others to make chapati, an unleavened flatbread served in East Africa, and under another name, on the Indian subcontinent. Machua plans to open a restaurant in October in Southeast Portland
Among those taking part in the hands-on demonstration were Kym Whitten, Linda Villasenor, her mother, and 3-year-old Jaedin Gilyard, Whitten's granddaughter.
They kneaded flour, flattened it into a circle, added oil, rolled it up and then flattened it again before putting each one onto a grill.
"Being multicultural I love to visit events like this and see different cultures," Whitten said. "Beaverton puts on such great events — and they are free, which makes it nice, especially when you have a small person."
Participants got to eat their creations and wash them down with cups of chai — tea with sugar, milk and spices.
In the main hall, the Filipino-American Friendship Club of Oregon — which observes its 40th anniversary this year — were among the groups with a booth. The club has taken part in similar community activities, such as Good Neighbor Days, which ended in 1996.
"Our kids get to do a lot of volunteer activities, which is great," Rae Santos said. "We try to encourage families to join our club."
On one side were lanterns, known as parols, made of paper and bamboo.
"It's a chance for kids to interact with other kids and teach them how to make a parol," said Cecile Saqueton Muraki, herself a Beaverton High School graduate. "They get to meet people from other cultures. It's a nice event."
Beaverton International Celebration is one of more than a dozen activities during Beaverton Welcoming Week, which concludes with a Welcome Beaverton potluck from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, at Conestoga Recreation Center, 9985 S.W. 125th Ave.
Beaverton was the first and so far only Oregon city to join Welcoming USA, which began in 2015. Multnomah County also is a member.
Mayor Denny Doyle said one in every five people in Beaverton, whose total population approaches 100,000, was born outside the United States. That rate is slightly more than the 17 percent for Washington County and 13.9 percent for Multnomah County, and double the 9.8 percent for Oregon, according to U.S. Census statistics for 2012-16.
Doyle said he had no hesitation when someone approached him with an invitation during a meeting in Denver a few years ago.
"This week we celebrate our different cultures, our talents in music, dance and cooking," he told the audience. "We try to make this community as livable as we can — but it is only as good as you are. Our city is much stronger because of the collective abilities and talents we share to learn and grow."
For a complete list of Beaverton Welcoming Week activities: