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Sue Bush
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Neighborhood Expo With Latino Flair

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Taichi instructor and 2005 "Peacemaker of the Year" Youlin Shi
North Adams – The Latino culture will be highlighted during a Dec. 3 Northern Berkshire Neighbors/Northern Berkshire Community Coalition “Neighborhood Expo” at the St. Anthony’s Parish Center. The free event is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 3 p.m..

“This is an emerging population and culture,” said coalition events organizer Kathy Keeser.

Community Conversations

Two community conversation sessions will be presented during the morning, Keeser said. Angela Thomas, a city resident and native of Columbia, and Mark Rondeau have agreed to co-facilitate a group discussion involving people from other countries who now live in the region. Participants will be encouraged to describe their background, traditions of their native country, barriers they faced after leaving their native country, and positive experiences associated with local life, Keeser said.

Author Joe Manning is expected to lead a community conversation focused on “invisible people,” Keeser said. Expected participants include area residents and human service workers, she said.

The term “invisible people” was coined during the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina and identified those living in poverty. Keeser said that there is a local population of “invisible people.”

“These are the people who are struggling to make ends meet, and includes some of what we think of as our ‘local characters,’” She said.

A noon “Taste of Northern Berkshires” lunch will offer Spanish and Latin foods. Keeser said that the menu will mix homemade foods with foods provided by the city-based Café Latino restaurant and the Pittsfield-based La Fogata restaurant.

Peacemaker of the Year

The “Peacemaker of the Year” award is set for a 1:15 p.m. presentation. The 2005 “peacemaker” is Youlin Shi.

Shi came to the city 10 years ago after her husband Kailai Huang accepted a teaching position at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Shi created a unique cultural sharing and education program soon after moving to the city; she offered to teach taichi to senior citizens in exchange for help with learning the English language. Taichi classes were first offered at the Mary Spitzer Center but demand forced a move to the St. John’s Church parish center. Over the years, the classes grew in popularity and Shi now leads classes at senior centers in Williamstown and Florida. She is skilled in Chinese cooking and Chinese calligraphy and has shared her skills during numerous community events. Shi is active with the Women’s House of Peace and earlier this year, led area residents on a trip to China.

The afternoon will be filled with Latin music and demonstrations of Latin dances. Interactive displays and art activities will be offered through the day, said Keeser. Among the art activities will be kaleidoscope making and face-painting.

Additional information about the 8th Annual Neighborhood Expo is available by calling Keeser or Natalie Cain at 413-663-7588.

Susan Bush may be reached at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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