Sunday, February 16th at 2:00 p.m. at the Greenburgh Public Library, BLENDID, an organization dedicated to global culture, will host a Lunar New Year Celebration. To celebrate the Year of the Rat, children and their families will enjoy traditional Chinese dances, crafts and interactive activities.
Read an interview with the founder of BLENDID, Jing Du, and learn more about the person behind many of the library's wonderful cultural programs for children.
Q: Why did you start the organization Blendid?
A: The U.S.A. is a very different country from where I grew up. I grew up in China. Although China is geographically big with a large population, the country was not built by immigrants so its regional cultures are not that diverse from each other.
After I immigrated here, I was working in NYC. I made numerous mistakes when communicating at work. I just didn’t know better. It took me years to adjust and realize these differences. One has to face and deal with diversity on a daily basis. There is no way to avoid it.
After I had my son, I met more and more families which were very different from each other with different cultures and backgrounds. It created an urge within me to do something that introduces my son and other children to different cultures so they don’t make mistakes like I did.
I have done a few events for his classes, and realized how the schools don’t really provide any culture related curriculum. Most of the time, the teachers wanted to, but they didn’t know how and what to bring to the class to enable the kids to learn about the different cultures around them.
That’s why I started Blendid. My goal is to expose our kids to the diverse cultures when they’re young, exploring the culture and fun through events and practical hands-on activities. Eventually, when they grow up, hopefully, they have a global outlook.
Q: How long have you been working to bring culture programs to your community?
A: It’s been two years since I had my first public event. My first cultural event was with Greenburgh Public Library Children’s department. After that, we did numerous events at community centers, the local schools’ multicultural day celebrations and other library events.
Q: What kinds of events have you organized?
A: We had Asian Heritage Month celebration, Lunar New Year celebrations, Mexican holidays and Indian Diwali.
We also provided culture centric after school enrichment programs to schools. During the 2018-2019 school year, the program taught 16 countries with 23 cultures and traditions to the classes. They were the United States, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, Italy, Poland, Russia, India, China, Japan, Australia, Puerto Rico, Ghana, Greece, Turkey and The Bahamas. The classes taught traditions including holidays, festivals, food, fun facts, animals, folktales and stories from these countries. In the second half of the classes, we have hands-on crafts for the kids to make souvenirs to bring back home.
As of the 2019-2020 school year, we’re planning to add new countries and areas including Egypt, Ireland and Brazil.
Q: How do you get involved with bringing programs to the Greenburgh Public Library?
A: The Greenburgh Public Library Children’s department was the first library that we worked with on culture programs. I had this idea and we started with the Cinco De Mayo celebration in May 2018. It was a success. Kids and families had a lot of fun at our event; they were dancing, making crafts, listening to stories and taking pictures. After that, we have been doing more events including the Asian Heritage Month, Diwali and the Lunar New Year celebration on a regular basis
Q: What is the most valuable thing you have learned holding these events at the library?
A: I think to expose diverse cultures to people who wanted to know about them is the most valuable thing for the type of events that we organized. People enjoying and appreciating these events are the best feedback that we could have. Without these types of events, people wouldn’t know that they even existed!
Q: What do you see yourself doing in the future?
A: In the next year or two, we wanted to go deeper on culture engagement. Through these years, I’m lucky enough to know many local culture experts. These include folk artists, musicians, authors, culture advocates and instructors who devoted themselves to their respective cultures for many years.
They are the most valuable assets to representing their own cultures. We could host workshops for them to demonstrate and spread their knowledge. I’m sure these workshops would be authentic, enjoyable and fantastic culture immersing experiences for all.
In 3-5 years, we hope to be able to offer culture expedition opportunities for the kids to go out and see the world. These expeditions would provide true culture immersing opportunities for them to experience first-hand the diversity of our world.
The Greenburgh Public Library Children’s Room is working with BLENDID to bring a Cultural Explorer series to the library for grades 1-3 starting this spring.