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Interethnic Coalition?s Inaugural Dinner a Grand Success

May 2003
Interethnic Coalition?s Inaugural Dinner a Grand Success

Just before thanksgiving 2002, the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee hosted a free screening of British Filmmaker Gurinder Chadha?s film ?What?s Cooking.? The film highlighted the cultural, familial and social issues that four families of varied ethnic origins (African American, Latino, Jewish, and Vietnamese) struggle with as they celebrate thanksgiving together. The message of the film - that even in diversity we are bound by the common thread of similar concerns, fears and hopes - impacted the multi-ethnic audience at the screening deeply. To the extent, that it eventually resulted in the formation of the Georgia Interethnic Coalition in January 2003. It will attempt to build bridges amongst the various ethnic communities of the area while trying to better understand each other?s culture and values. The coalition will also bring issues of common interest before policymakers.

The Indian Professional Network represented by Ritesh Desai and Dr Narsi Narsimhan and the American Jewish Committee represented by Sherry Frank, Jon Leven and Pam Rosenthal hosted the Coalition?s first, immensely successful inaugural dinner on 10th April at the Palace restaurant in Norcross, Georgia. The event brought members from the multi-ethnic community together to exchange notes and listen to two prominent Indian American academicians Dr Beheruz Sethna, the President and CEO of the State university of���West Georgia and Dr Jagdish Sheth, Charles Kelstadt Professor of Marketing at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. Sherry Frank and Jon Leven talked about the ethnic outreach work that the Atlanta Chapter of the American Jewish Committee has been involved in, to create a better understanding among communities, as they continue to serve a 2000 strong membership base.

Dr Narsimhan further cemented ties by presenting Sherry Frank the spectacular book, India Unveiled by Robert Arnett, who is of Jewish American descent. Shortly thereafter,

Ritesh Desai who organized the event and did an eloquent job as emcee introduced the two distinguished speakers for the evening.

Dr Sethna pointed out the merits of creating love and goodwill between the communities, and of appreciating and learning the values and culture of each other. He also talked of different strategy options available to communities to assimilate, which ranged from sticking together within the community but stepping out occasionally to meet, or to be part of the so called melting pot, so blended in that each becomes indistinguishable from the other. He felt that the ideal way for people to coexist in harmony would be to integrate and come together and yet retain their unique identity. Dr Sethna also focused on the ability to take ourselves less seriously.

Dr Sheth pointed out the need to work together, as by 2020 America will be dominated by immigrants. He said that Atlanta had the potential of over taking Miami and Houston as the gateway for business with its sound infrastructure, temperate climate and top notch universities, The only thing standing between Atlanta and success is its reputation of having poor elementary and secondary education. To bridge that gap, there was great need to work together as a community to fulfill that potential rather than leave it to politicians to make it happen. The presentations were followed by a crisp Q&A session and a consensus among attendees that this was an extremely well organized and informative event.

- By Kavita Chhibber

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