By Gordie Wilczynski, The Macomb Daily
From Polish to Chaldean and Italian to German all nationalities are welcome to the annual Cultural Exchange on Friday sponsored by the city of Sterling Heights and Ethnic Community Committee.
The event, which highlights food, music, dancing and friendship will be held from 6-10 p.m. on Friday at the Senior Citizen Activity Center on Utica and Dodge Park roads in Sterling Heights.
Sterling Heights Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Taylor says everyone is invited to break bread with different nationalities and learn a little bit about them.
Ike Cabase, chairman of the Ethnic Community Committee, said the event gives people of all ethnic backgrounds the chance to meet other people and taste authentic “old country” food. He also said people can watch dancers and musicians and see what the other part of the world is all about.
“The evening is really a great change for people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds to celebrate their similarities more than their differences,” said Cabase who was born in the United States and whose parents are Phillipino and Spanish. “We are looking forward to participation from all the different nationalities in Sterling Heights and the surrounding area.”
Barbara Ziarko, a longtime Sterling Heights councilwoman, said being a diverse community is important to the local residents. She said Sterling Heights has opened its arms to all nationalities and that has proved to be an interesting aspect of living in Macomb County’s second-largest city.
“We can share our ideals about culture, different types of food, music, entertainment and a lot more,” Ziarko said. “The Ethnic Community Committee teaches us how to live together and we most certainly learn from one another.”
Sterling Heights Community Relations Director Steve Guitar said many area restaurants have donated food for the event.
Ike Alam, longtime owner of Ike’s Restaurant that serves Middle Eastern food, said he has been involved in the ethnic festival for many years. He said he feels he is doing his part as a member of the community and that he wants as many people as possible to enjoy his Middle Eastern food.
John Mannino, owner of Mannino’s bakery, also has been involved serving his baked Italian specials for several years. He said it is one way of giving back to the community that has been so good to his family.
Mayor Richard Notte said the city is home to several ethnic organizations most notably the Carpathia German Club, Syrian Youth Union, Islamic Organization of North America and the American-Polish Century Club.
“We’re trying to get everybody to deal with everybody in the same way,” said Cabase. “People can try samples of what different people in our community eat while enjoying songs and ethnic dancers in their native costumes.”