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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

EXPO Honors Michael Amaral With Peacemaker Award

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dancers performed a Korean Drum Dance at the 2006 Neighborhhod EXPO.
North Adams - With 9 years of community celebration under its' belt, the yearly Neighborhood EXPO has become a familiar event to many area natives and residents of some tenure.

First-time EXPO visitors Jan O'Brien and Abby Parker, who both moved to the city during the early summer, viewed the event with fresh perspective and delivered enthusiastic reactions.

"I think this was very diverse, and it wasn't just a lot of words, there were actions," said Parker, who moved to the city from
Hudson, N.Y.. "It was warm, welcoming, I loved it."

She made a choice to retire to the Berkshires and believed she would move to the southern Berkshire area, Parker said.

"I came here once, and it grabbed me," she said.

O'Brien moved north from Pittsfield.

"I loved the EXPO," she said. "It's part of what I love about North Adams. One of the most striking things about North Adams is the warmth of the people, and the inclusion. There are things to do here."

This year's EXPO theme was "Sharing Our Stories and Culture: Asian and American Interchange." The celebration began at 10 a.m. with two group discussions, "Immigration: How It Changes And How It Stays The Same," facilitated by author Joe Manning and area historian Paul Marino, and "Our Neighbors From The East," facilitated by Natalie Cain and Youlin Shi.

Peacemaker Award


Peacemaker Award winner Michael Amaral
The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's Northern Berkshire Neighbors group hosted the event in rented space at the St. Anthony's Parish Center. Funding for the event was provided by the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire.

EXPO traditions include presentation of the Martin Luther King Peacemaker Award. This year's award winner is Michael "Mischa" Amaral. Amaral moved to the city from Pittsfield about five years ago and is known for his community endeavors that impact the Brayton Hill apartment complex, the Berkshire Share food program, and the NBCC. Amaral is also a volunteer with the "Target Hunger" program.

Mayor John Barrett III presented the award to Amaral. He noted that Amaral's deeds are not done in search of a limelight but are done out of a sense of community and desire to create a better environment. Many city residents contribute quietly to the benefit of the city, Barrett said.

"They are the unsung heroes. They help people, they care about people, and they expect nothing in return. They are the heroes of our community. I can't say enough good things about [Amaral] and what he does for kids, the good he does without regard for income or anything else."

Amaral described himself as a "background person."

"I'm quite taken by these people as friends and neighbors to be accepted as a friend in return," he said.

"We live in trying times. We stumble, we fall, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and continue to make a small difference in our corner of the world. Those who are willing to mentor and become a role model, we who are concerned, compassionate citizens have taken the first steps to making a better world. All of us are making a difference."

Previous Peacemaker Award winners include Youlin Shi, Barbara Couture, Nelson and Crystal Ogert, Linda Bissaillon, Rick and Tammy Moon, and Shirley Davis.

Emily Andreatta, 8. Emma Arabia, 10, Anna Arabia, 10, and Maia Dilego, 21 months old, all participated at the 2006 Neighborhood EXPO.


State Senator-elect Benjamin Downing attended the event and told those in attendance that community positives should be as readily publicized as the negatives.

"It seems like everyday the front page of the newspapers is about what is going wrong," Downing said. "You need to see a little more of what is going right."

Sharing Of Culture

The EXPO luncheon offered a free buffet of Asian cuisine that included a variety of vegetable, rice, noodle, beef, and chicken selections. For those with either courage or skill, chopsticks were available.


Dancers performed with silk fans.
Williams College student Eugene Won demonstrated Chinese yo-yo skills. Twin sisters Jaeyeon and Juyeon Park and Chung Ah Lee performed a traditional Korean Drum Dance. Annie Park, Flora Lim, Ireane Cao,Zoe Xie, Alda Chan, Teia Fanciullo,Amanda Montano, and Patty Liao performed a ribbon and silk fan dance. A Lion Dance was performed by "lions" Theresa Ong, Iris Lee, Annie Liang, and Elizabeth Jun and actor/dancers Matthew Limpar, Rena Xie, Yvette Wang, and Liao. All dancers are students at Williams College.

Area artist Kelly Lee exhibited photographs of his family. Lee's grandfather was a governor during the Chinese Qing dynasty. The photographs included his grandfather, his grandmother, and a family photo that included Lee as a toddler.

Kelly Lee with a photograph of his grandmother.


Community Transition Program students of Melanie Rancourt presented an exhibit based on the book "The Breadwinner" by Deborah Ellis, which tells the story of a young girl who lives in Afghanistan. The saga of "Parvana" was depicted through illustrations drawn by the students.

Additional displays were included at the EXPO and one room was filled with clothing, statues, and other authentic Chinese and Asian items.

The 2006 EXPO Planning Committee members were Manning, Shi, Amaral, Nelson and Crystal Ogert, Davis, Marino,Judy McConnell, Carolyn Leab, Edna Rudnick, Sidney Towers, Andrea Peters, Kailai Huang, and Lily Li.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com.
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