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A world away, just down the hall

Greenspring celebrates diversity with annual expo

Created date

September 24th, 2013
Greenspring celebrates diversity with annual expo

In my opinion, Greenspring fully represents tolerance and acceptance of others, says community member Libby Haynes. Our community demonstrates what I believe America should be. We all accept each other as individuals doing their best. Celebrating the uniqueness and acceptance of the residents and staff at the Springfield, Va., Erickson Living community, Greenspring recently held the third annual Diversity Expo, featuring food and entertainment from around the world. What I enjoy most at the expo is its liveliness and witnessing everyone s enjoyment, says Libby. I am proud to be a part of a community that respects each individual s uniqueness.

Learning from each other

Greenspring s numerous cultural and social groups participate in the annual expo. Setting up displays were the Jewish Council; the Republican and Democratic clubs; the Italian, Spanish, and French conversation groups; the Village Church; Columbia at Greenspring; Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; the Multi-Cultural Dialogue Group; and the Foreign Films Club. Foreign-born residents and staff members shared clothing from their native countries on mannequins displayed throughout the expo. Abrehet Hailu, a member of Greenspring s housekeeping staff, donated clothing from her native Ethiopia for display. She shared with me the fact that many of the residents approached her and told her how proud they were of her and her participation in the event, says Sheila Frey, facilities coordinator and member of the diversity committee. She then asked me if she could participate next year and share her country s coffee ceremony so everyone could see this special ceremony that has great meaning to her. Greenspring also welcomed outside vendors to the expo, including MVLE, a Springfield-based nonprofit organization that supports and employs individuals with disabilities; Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer; an African clothing vendor; and a jewelry maker. One of the things I value most at Greenspring is the idea that education has no age limit, says Frey. The staff learns from the residents, the residents learn from the staff, and we all learn from each other. I believe this is what defines Greenspring as a thriving, growing community of individuals who are all valued for who they are. Throughout the expo, the enticing aromas of various ethnic cuisines wafted through the halls. Stations featuring food from around the world and created from recipes submitted by residents and staff were the hit of the day. We had many raves about how authentic the food tasted, says Staff Development Manager Kristy Porter. Our chef s passion for cooking and food really came out at the expo. Two of the most popular dishes were the Mediterranean/Baltic eggplant specialty, moussaka, created by Chef de Cuisine Eric Phipps (see recipe on right), and corn pudding from a recipe donated by resident Bette Wright.

Let me entertain you

Amidst the dining and sharing, performers entertained expo attendees with a variety of dances and songs. Performers included a steel drummer, a Hawaiian hula demonstration duo, a Bolivian dance troupe, a belly dancer, and an African drum and dance duo. I enjoyed the entertainment just as I did last year, says Michel Margosis, who leads the French conversation group. My favorites were the young African dancer moving quickly to the rhythm of the drums and the slow, graceful movements of the young belly dancer from West Africa. Through music, dance, food, clothing, and sharing, the diversity expo enriches community life, helping neighbors and staff develop an appreciation for each other and their backgrounds. Staff who have left their countries to come to the U.S. are excited to share things about their homeland, says Frey. You can tell that it gives them great pride to say, This is who I am! Events like this really help bring the Erickson Living mission to share our gifts to life, says Porter.


Serves 6-8 Ingredients Filling 2 tsp oil or butter 4 lb eggplant 1 lb potatoes 1 ' lb ground beef 2 large onions, diced 2 cloves of garlic, minced ' cup red wine ' cup parsley 1 tsp sugar ' tsp allspice ' tsp oregano 1 tblsp ground cinnamon 2 tblsp tomato paste 1 cup tomato puree 1 cup Parmesan cheese B chamel 1 cup butter 1 cup flour 4 cups hot milk (boil the milk, then add) 8 egg yolks, lightly beaten Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Heat 2 tsp oil or butter in a large frying pan. Slice eggplant into thin strips. Fry until brown and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from fryer and place on grate to dry. Peel potatoes and boil them whole until they are just done. Sautee onion, garlic, and ground beef. Add red wine and simmer until butter melts. 3. Add oregano, cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, tomato puree, and sugar. 4. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 5. Set aside and prepare b chamel sauce. 6. Melt butter in a sauce pan and stir in flour. Slowly whisk in hot milk until thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. 7. Spray a 9x13 standard glass or nonstick pan. Layer eggplant in bottom of pan. Top with a layer of ' of the beef mixture. Sprinkle with a layer of ' of the Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering for a total of four layers, and cover with b chamel sauce and remaining Parmesan cheese. 8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Allow to cool 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.