Food, Fun and Conversation

An enthusiastic crowd filled the large multipurpose room at Ithaca’s Just Be Cause Center on Nov. 1 for “Food, Fun and Community Conversation,” sponsored by the Ithaca Coalition for Unity and Cooperation in the Middle East (ICUCME).

“Our whole family really had a great time,” said participant Greg Pitts, a financial advisor with Natural Investments. “People were so friendly and it was good to have a chance to talk about ideology in a positive way. “

The evening began with a Middle Eastern-themed pot-luck that boasted familiar dishes like stuffed grape leaves and babaganoush, as well as more exotic fare like majadra, a lentil dish with pine nuts.

The community conversation on “Beliefs, Facts and Emotion.” began with a role playing exercise done in pairs, as a way to explore what it feels like to have one’s ideology disrespected. Participants then discussed, and shared with the whole group, what techniques can be used in such situations to promote constructive dialogue and avoid argument.

After the organized community conversation ended, the Cornell University Middle Eastern Music Ensemble (CUMEME) performed. The group includes members from diverse nationalities and cultures; they entertained the crowd with selections from a repertoire that includes traditional Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Greek and other music from the Middle East. In keeping with the spirit of the evening, they displayed a sign reading “Playing for Peace.”

Along with music, participants in the ICUCME event enjoyed free henna tattoos by artist Joannah Fine. They could also have a trilingual welcome sign personalized with their family name in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

To see more photos from the “Food, Fun and Community Conversation” event, see the album on ICUCME’s Facebook page.