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MAYOR GRAHAM RICHARD

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The Fort Wayne community has always been a place where people from diverse backgrounds have come together in celebration of customs and heritages that unite, rather than divide us. More than 200 years ago, this land was the home of Miami, Potowatomi, and other Native Americans, English and French Settlers and African-American Freemen.

Now, as we settle into a new century and millennium, our community boasts more than 20 different cultural and ethnic groups that now call the City of Fort Wayne home. As we welcome our newcomers, we are also aware that unintended clashes sometimes occur when some people are inconsiderate of the customs and traditions of others. This is especially the case when language becomes a barrier rather than a unifier of the community.

The City of Fort Wayne is hosting its 3rd annual International Festival on Saturday, April 26, 2003, at South Side High School, 3601 South Calhoun St from noon to 5 p.m. This free festival, "Unifying the Community," is an effort to bring together people of diverse backgrounds in a manner that will allow them to celebrate their unique traditions while understanding just how much we all share in common.

Fort Wayne is now home to the largest population of people from Myanmar (Burma) in this nation. What happened to make it necessary for them to leave Burma? Why did a civil war in West Africa make it necessary for people from Liberia and Sierra Leone to relocate here? After the break up of the Soviet Union, why did some people decide to start a new life in the Midwest of the U.S.? What is it like to be in the midst of winter in Indiana when it is summer for your friends or families back in Brazil or Australia?

Find out what it is like for these people to leave their native land and build a new life in the United States. Why was Fort Wayne chosen as their new home? What do they like best about our community? What do they miss the most from their former home? Are they adjusting to English as a second language or are they clinging to a mother tongue?

Festival attendees will be able to sample food from around the world, watch and participate with dancers, browse art work, books, and collectibles, listen to stories of how people came to this community, and much more!

If you are part of a group that would like to share its story or traditions with others, or you desire more information about this event, contact the City of Fort Wayne Northwest Neighborhood Specialist, Zenovia Pearson, at (260) 427-2625, or email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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