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Shared Stew and Stories

By Shannon Walsh, IJPC Intern

Over this past weekend at the Global Stews event held at Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church, I was blessed with an opportunity to share in fruitful conversation while cooking stew and enjoying a meal alongside members of the immigrant and refugee community. The event was organized by several members of the Immigrant Dignity Coalition, including Mount Auburn Presbyterian, St. John’s Unitarian Universalist, Heartfelt Tidbits, the 3R Fund for Immigration Family Legal Defense and local partners Transformations CDC and the Cincinnati Sanctuary Congregations Coalition.

On Saturday, a group of individuals with specialized knowledge of various cultures gathered and prepared six stews representing six different cultures. There was a ground nut stew from West Africa, a Guatemalan stew with pepitas, a black lentil dish in the Nepalese style, and a chicken stew with loroco flowers from El Salvador. The Senegalese stew and pozole from Mexico were also a hit. The kitchen overflowed with exuberant scents from different ingredients and laughter amongst the chaos as we learned to share one stove with innumerable pots and pans. We giggled with women from Ghana over the misunderstanding of chives for green onions while making trips back and forth to the grocery next door to ensure each recipe was fulfilled perfectly. Conversations and expert guidance was translated from language to language as we discerned whether the flavor of the finished product was up to par. 

On Sunday, we were able to enjoy the creations of all the chefs’ hard work while tasting each of the stews in a room filled with over 200 advocates, supporting organization members, immigrants, and refugees. The room teemed with love as new connections were being made and stories were shared. There were at least 20 countries represented by pins on a map. I connected with a woman from Mexico who shared the importance of caring deeply for yourself first so that you can have the capacity to guide others through their struggles. She shared her longing for fresh fruit from Mexico that had much more seeds than the “mysterious” fruit provided in America. 

The evening was a beautiful break from the chaos that daily life can so quickly become flooded by. Between the laughter of children as they had their faces painted and exuberant conversation of old colleagues reconnecting, we were reminded of the power we all have when we are in collaboration with one another. The Global Stews event emphasized the importance of celebrating the vibrant lives of those who have traveled far to build a new life for themselves and all of the hands that have helped along the way. I left feeling uplifted and empowered to continue in this journey of supporting immigrant and refugee community members as we work together to promote an environment infused with peace and fulfillment. 

Shannon Walsh is a junior at the University of Cincinnati studying Human Development & Community Engagement, with certificates in International Human Rights & Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.