Ninth grader Luis Escobar adds the finishing touches to Salpicon, a favorite recipe from his native Colombia. His secret ingredient? A dash, a scoop and a heaping of love.
“With this project, everybody could get together the cultures from each country,” Luis said. “So they could get together and this is a perfect way to make peace.”
Luis's peace project is a cookbook to raise money for Windows of Hope, a fund for those who lost loved ones who worked in the food industry at the World Trade Center. His collaborators are fellow ESL classmates at JHS 189 in Queens. All of them are recent immigrants who come from all over the world.
Their inspiration is their teacher, Lisa Antinore Duer.
“The cookbook just seemed like the best idea because we wanted to do something unifying for all of us,” Duer said. “We wanted to get to know each other's cultures and we thought that food was the most immediate way.”
Lisa asked her seventh, eighth and ninth graders to bring in recipes from home. They then learned everything from measuring to marinating, all the while improving their English. Students who never used to speak to each other worked side by side with a common goal.
“It felt pretty good, helping other people at the World Trade Center,” said Luis. “And I think the most important thing was to learn about each others culture.”
They learned to respect each other's differences by sharing each others food, from El Salvadoran Pupusas to Korean Kim Chi Bokumbop. Eighth grader Arjun Wila from India made Aloo Samosa.
“It was fun because if someone didn't get it, you could help them,” Arjun said. “If you don't know anything you could ask their help so it was fun working together. Even though they're different, they still love us, they like to take care of us, and that's fun.”
Students worked tirelessly over the past year perfecting the cookbook, which they call “The World's Table.” Lisa is now looking for a publisher to help keep copies of the cookbook coming. In the meantime, with a new school year underway, she's tossing around ideas for another project to continue where the cookbook left off.
“They are our future so I come out of this project feeling so confident about the hands our country will be in one day,” she said. “We have wonderful, wonderful kids out there that really want to help.”
And so, for helping fill the world's table, Lisa and her kids at JHS 189 are our New Yorkers of the Week.
If you can help Lisa get the “World's Table Cookbook” professionally published, call Windows of Hope at 212-893-3710.
To nominate somebody to be our New Yorker of the Week, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or write to:
New Yorker of the Week
75 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10011