West Hosts Annual “Coming Together” Event

By Eiman Navaid, Staff Writer

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Sunday afternoon brought together the Niles Township community to celebrate their annual “Coming Together” event held at West. This year’s theme was “Journeys to Niles Township,” which explored the community’s diversity and highlighted the different stories shared by those who have made the area home.

The event started at 1 p.m, with demonstrations and displays of cultural traditions, which included the Kukeri Panel Display and the Skokie Heritage Museum Slide Show, along with refreshments from all of the represented cultures, such as Mediterranean falafels, Mexican quesadillas, and Polish soda. Those in attendance were able to walk around in any order they preferred, learning about the different cultures.

An hour later, attendees were directed to the auditorium for the start of the program. After being welcomed by District 219 superintendent Dr. Steven Isoye, attendees heard Khary Laurent sing the national anthem. Stories and performances from groups like the Bulgarian Dance Ensemble Horo Children’s Group.

This was Isoye’s fourth year with the “Coming Together” event, which has been a community tradition for eleven years. Isoye was also the master of ceremonies for the occasion.

“Since I’ve been here, we’ve worked with the Chinese community, the Muslim-American community, the Polish community, and this year, we decided to do something different,” Isoye said. “It’s called Journey to Niles Township and it’s about all the stories of how people get here and what it means and what it’s like.”

Isoye re-iterated the importance of understanding the cultural diversity that lies in the community and expressed excitement and interest in hearing the stories of others, along with sharing that of his parents.

“I am also honored to be able to present my parent’s story, specifically, their internment during World War II in the Japanese Internment Camps,” Isoye stated.

Niles West principal Dr. Karen Ritter conveyed her eagerness about being able to experience the event for the first time.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing it for the first time and I’m happy that it’s here at our school,” Ritter said. “I think it’s a great celebration of all the different cultures that we have in Niles Township.”

National Honors Society volunteer Sofia Joseph was impressed by how educational the experience was for her.

“I got to learn about European cultures, and that’s something I’m not exposed to on a daily basis,” Joseph said. “We also got to hear from a lot of elderly people who know what it’s like to come here, assimilate, and figure out what America is about.”

“Coming Together” events will continue for the next six weeks at different local areas in the community. These activities and programs are free and will include book discussions, film screenings, and other events that highlight immigration, local history, community resources, and more.

Sponsors of the event included Lowell International Foods, Pita Inn Restaurant, TBK Grill, and many others.