Libraries to widen horizons; patrons get chance to explore other cultures

This summer, you can learn about the culture of Syria and the food of Burma.

Speakers will also tell you about the cultures and customs of Japan, India, Mexico and China at a series of events meant to educate residents about other countries and cultures at local library branches.

Local libraries are planning events throughout the summer to educate county residents on the food, culture and customs of clusters of international people who have moved into Johnson County in recent years.

ASPIRE Johnson County is working with the libraries to bring in speakers and plan cultural activities. Each country featured was chosen because immigrants from that country have made their home in the county, said Dana Monson, interim executive director of the Johnson County Development Corp.

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“We thought this would be a great time to just bring the awareness to some residents in the county to just get to know their neighbors,” she said.

Part of the series also includes a mini-film festival at the Artcraft Theatre, with a film on a person from each of the countries being highlighted. And local residents will be able to see what countries their ancestors are from in a genealogy exhibit at the Johnson County Museum of History, said Lisa Lintner, Johnson County Public Library director.

“We want to celebrate cultures and we want lots and lots of people to celebrate the culture of others,” she said.

The library received feedback that people wanted to learn more about the different countries. Ideas, such as a large international festival, took too much time and resources to plan. Something smaller with the libraries was more realistic, Lintner said.

Natives of most of the countries will be at the programs to teach residents about the language and customs. Library employees are researching their assigned country and adding programming, Lintner said.

“We want to help the communities to know their neighbors better,” she said.

Each country highlighted was chosen because immigrants of that country chosen to come and live in that community, Lintner said.

And they want to show that the county is a welcoming place.

“We want to be the kind of community that is very welcoming,” she said.

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Here is a look at programming at local libraries to learn about the cultures of different countries.

2 to 4 p.m. June 24: Syria. Trafalgar Library, 424 S. Tower St.

1 to 3 p.m. July 1: Burma/Myanmar, Clark-Pleasant, 530 Tracy Road, Whiteland

1 to 3 p.m. July 8: Japan, Franklin, 401 State St.

1 to 3 p.m. July 15: India, White River, 1664 Library Blvd., Greenwood.

1 to 3 p.m. July 22: Mexico, Greenwood Public Library, 310 S. Meridian St.

Time yet to be determined: July 29: China, Edinburgh Wright-Hageman Public Library, 119 W. Main Cross St.