Immigrant Heritage Week 2011

Today kicks off Immigrant Heritage Week, established by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2004.

Bloomberg, a grandson of Russian immigrants, established the week to celebrate the experiences and contributions of immigrants to New York City and the vibrant life stories New Yorkers have to tell.

This year, you can visit the StoryCorps booth in Foley Square from April 11-17 to share your story of coming to America. StoryCorps is a national, nonprofit organization with a mission to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.

The StoryCorps interviews will provide a unique opportunity for New Yorkers to tell their stories of immigration, and reflect on their families’ journeys and dreams. StoryCorps will record 48 interviews during immigrant Heritage Week at the Foley Square StoryBooth and at the Queens, Brooklyn and New York Public Libraries. These stories, which aim to help build cross-cultural bridges of communication, understanding, and respect among New Yorkers, will be captured in a Digital Tapestry online to display the diverse history of our City’s residents. To make a booth reservation, call 646-723-7027 and mention “Immigrant Heritage Week”. Don’t miss this opportunity to share your story!

In addition, this year the Immigrant Heritage Week will feature One NYC One Nation, a civic engagement initiative for immigrant New Yorkers intended to improve the relationship between city government and immigrants who are often unaware of city services available to them.The programs will focus on various issues involving civic engagement, such as becoming more invovled with their children’s schools, participating in city-run English study programs, help with opening bank accounts, college readiness seminars and financial literary sessions.

The program also seeks to identify a new wave of leaders in immigrant communities who have ideas for reshaping their neighborhoods to better suit the changing populations. The mayor’s office is teaming up with the Coro New York Leadership Center to offer small grants to 20 immigrants, who will receive leadership training and help in creating community development projects. The hope is to cultivate a group of potential leaders to represent communities whose voices are seldom heard.

What were some things you needed help navigating when you first arrived to the United States?

For more details visit,
Immigrant Heritage Week 2011
One NYC One Nation Initiative
StoryCorps Immigrant Heritage Week

Under: Cultural Event, Culture, News, Oral History, Public Programs
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Design Ignites Change Award Grant Winner!

2010 Design Ignites Change Award WinnerWe’re excited to announce that First Person American is the recipient of the 2010 Design Ignites Change Award!

We were one of two winners of the Design Ignites Change Implementation Award which funds promising community projects that engage in social change. The Design Ignites Change Implementation Award will be used towards additional development of our beta site. One of the new features we’re developing is an uploading interface so anyone can upload and share their stories! Stay tuned for more progress.

Thank you to Worldstudio and Adobe Foundation for supporting our cause!

Read the full press release here.

Under: First Person American, Updates
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First Person Lens–San Francisco

Whether your traveling to a city for the first time, or the hundredth time, you inevitably end up asking “What should we see?”.  In San Fransisco the typical responses are Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, and Chinatown. In most big city’s you can hop on and off a bus and see all of these places.  While riding around you will hear your standard commentary that tells you about whatever your looking at–rarely do you get anything insightful.

If you are planning on going to San Francisco and you want something different, check out Chinatown Alleyway Tours.  Its a locally run tour group operated by teens and young adults who live in the Chinatown community.  Rather than walking you through the neighborhood to see your standard collection of silk, watches, and handbags–these teens will give you a first hand look at the community itself.

What sets Chinatown Alleyway Tours apart is their passionate tour guides. You won’t just see the neighborhood–you’ll get to experience it. These types of tours remind me of the chef table at a restaurant–you get a first hand look at what really goes on, but more importantly you feel like you are a part of the restaurant staff.  After spending a couple hours with one of  the Chinatown Alley guides you won’t don’t just learn something different about the neighborhood, you’ll come away thinking you’ve lived there. Mary Ellen Hunt describes it best:

These are not your typical tours, pointing out only the cosmetic highlights of one of San Francisco’s oldest immigrant communities. The guides who lead the tours – usually a few of them at a time – are savvy, lively storytellers and knowledgeable politically, as well as historically. A couple of hours spent with them walking down the byways and alleys will help you get to know a side of the neighborhood behind the touristy side of the largest Chinese community outside of Asia.

You can read more of Mary Ellen Hunt’s article here.

Under: Asian, Chinese, Travel
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The 5th Annual Romanian Film Festival

The Romanian Cultural Institute in New York presents the 5th Annual Romanian Film Festival in New York City, this year entitled A New Beginning, to take place from December 3-5 at Tribeca Cinemas. Each year, the festival presents the best and most recent films from Romania’s unique and critically exalted national body of contemporary cinema to New York audiences. This year’s edition features new works from filmmakers who were at the forefront of the “Romanian New Wave,” such as Cristi Puiu, Radu Muntean, Titus Muntean, Adrian Sitaru, as well as debut features from Constantin Popescu, Bobby Paunescu and Razvan Radulescu. And, the highly-anticipated new work from Andrei Ujica (Videograms of a Revolution), The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, will be presented as the opening night film.

This year, Festival curator Mihai Chirilov has created a special section entitled Women on the Move, focusing on the representation of Women in post-communist society.

A few of the festival’s highlight features:

  • The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceausescu), 2010, directed by Andrei Ujica
  • Aurora, 2010, directed by Cristi Puiu
  • Kino Caravan (Caravana cinematografica), 2009, directed by Titus Muntean – U.S. Premiere
  • Medal of Honor (Medalia de onoare), 2009, directed by Calin Peter Netzer – N.Y. Premiere
  • Portrait of a Fighter as a Young Man (Portretul luptatorului la tinerete), 2010, directed by Constantin Popescu – U.S. Premiere
  • Tuesday, after Christmas (Marti, dupa Craciun), 2010, directed by Radu Muntean

Women on the Move

  • First of All, Felicia (Felicia, inainte de toate), 2009, directed by Razvan Radulescu & Melissa de Raaf – N.Y. Premiere
  • Francesca, 2009, directed by Bobby Paunescu – N.Y. Premiere
  • Stuck on Christmas (Captivi de Craciun), 2009, directed by Iulia Rugina – U.S. Premiere

Docs / Focus HBO Romania

  • Merry Circus (Circul vesel), 2009, directed by Claudiu Mitcu – U.S. Premiere
  • The Shukar Collective Project, 2010, directed by Matei-Alexandru Mocanu – U.S. Premiere
  • The World According to Ion B. (Lumea vazuta de Ion B.), 2009, directed by Alexander Nanau

Closing Night

  • Carnival Scenes (De ce trag clopotele, Mitica?), 1981, directed by Lucian Pintilie


  • The Cage (Colivia), 2010, directed by Adrian Sitaru
  • Lord, 2010, directed by Adrian Sitaru
  • Oxygen (Oxigen), 2010, directed by Adina Pintilie
  • Trolleybus 92 (Troleibuzul 92), 2009, directed by Stefan Constantinescu
  • Urban Groove, 2010, directed by Ruxandra Ghitescu

Chirilov states, “New Romanian Cinema was born in 2001 and as of 2005 became the thing on the international film scene. So, 2010 is a natural time for a new beginning. After a 5-year gap since his worldwide breakthrough with The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu is back with his new and anticipated film, Aurora, the very title of which implies a new beginning. Andrei Ujica’s The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, is closing a chapter of the recent Romanian history, offering a brand new, hotly debated and much-needed perspective on the national anti-hero. Most of the new films’ characters are longing for a new start, be it the unfaithful husband in Tuesday After Christmas, the guilty father in Medal of Honor, or the women challenged by the contexts of their lives in both Francesca and First of All, Felicia. Challenging the aesthetic of the Romanian New Wave as we know it, with a focus on characters stuck in limbo, this year’s abundant crop of New Romanian Cinema is the perfect mirror of a society at a crossroads desperately looking for a new path to follow.”

The special guest of this year’s festival is legendary Romanian stage and screen actor Victor Rebengiuc (Carnival Scenes, Medal of Honor, Tuesday, after Christmas). Also in attendance at the festival will be actresses Monica Barladeanu (Francesca), Mariana Mihut (Carnival Scenes), Ozana Oancea (First of All, Felicia, Stuck on Christmas), director/producer Bobby Paunescu (Francesca, Aurora), producer Andrei Cretulescu (Merry Circus, The Shukar Collective Project, The World According to Ion B.), producer/director Tudor Giurgiu, director of the Transilvania International Film Festival, Professor Vladimir Tismaneanu, and film critic Alex Leo Serban.

The Romanian Film Festival in New York City was initiated in 2006, and is a partnership of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York with the Transilvania International Film Festival and Tribeca Cinemas. Since its inception, the festival has featured great works of contemporary Romanian cinema such as The Death of Mr. Lazarescu by Cristi Puiu; 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days by Cristian Mungiu; California Dreamin’ (endless) by Cristian Nemescu; and, 12:08 East of Bucharest by Corneliu Porumboiu. The Festival is also devoted to revisiting landmark Romanian films, and has presented great works such as Reenactment and The Oak by master filmmaker Lucian Pintilie.

The Romanian Cultural Institute in New York (RCINY) aims to promote Romanian culture throughout the U.S. and internationally, and to build sustainable, creative partnerships among American and Romanian cultural organizations. The Institute acts as a catalyst and proponent of initiatives across artistic fields, striving to foster understanding, cultural diplomacy, and scholarly discourse by enriching public perspectives of contemporary Romanian culture. For the past five years, RCINY has been an active enabler and supporter of the presentation and promotion of Romanian cinema in the U.S.

The 5th Annual Romanian Film Festival: A New Beginning
December 3-5, 2010
Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street (at Laight Street)
New York, NY 10013

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30th Annual Korean Festival & Parade

Come see, taste, and listen… and experience Korea in New York!

The 30th Annual Korean Festival & Parade will be held this Saturday, October 2, 1010. The parade will be held from 12 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. from 38th Street to 27th Street along 6th Avenue.

You can also check out the festivities at the outdoor market from 9am to 6pm, on 32nd St btwn 5th & Broadway, with food, a singing contest, Korean drumming, a breakdancing competition, and a music festival starting at 1pm. See live Korean dance performances, taekwondo (Korean martial arts) demonstrations, and cultural exhibits of Korean artifacts and memorabilia. Taste a savory, mouth-watering sampling of Korean cuisine, including favorites such as kalbi (BBQ shortribs), bibim gooksoo (spicy mixed noodles), and kim chi fried rice. Listen to the sound of sogochum (Korean drum dance) and live singers performing traditional and popular Korean songs.

Date: October 2, 2010 (Saturday)
Time: 09:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Korean Festival Venue: 32nd Street between 5th Avenue and Broadway

The Korean Festival & Parade is an annual event run by the Korean American Association of Greater New York, in partnership with hundreds of community organizations and businesses, and hundreds of volunteers. The purpose of the Korean Festival & Parade is to share, promote, and raise awareness of Korean culture in the community. Additionally, proceeds from the Festival are used to fund service projects and ventures which benefit the Korean and larger community in New York, including an annual scholarship fund for outstanding, civic-minded students entering or currently enrolled in college.

The Korean Festival & Parade presents a unique, authentic taste of Korean culture through food, dance, art, music, and entertainment. The program of festival events varies from year to year, but past Festivals have included performances such as taekwondo (Korean martial arts) demonstration, a coming-of-age traditional tea ceremony, and Korean fan and drum dances.

The festival will provide interactive activities, such as Korean cooking lessons from talented chefs from the community, Korean youth singing competitions, and even a Kim Chi making demonstration. Visitors have enjoyed perusing through the various unique products and services available in the product tent, and, of course, savored their favorite Korean food, such as kalbi (BBQ shortribs), bibimbap (mixed rice and vegetables), and kim chi fried rice.

Under: Cultural Event, Festival, Korean, NYC
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