Since our founding in 1918, the International Institute has been a haven to celebrate and preserve diverse culture through our ethnic arts programming. Beyond presenting the richness of the world in Buffalo, these events have offered displaced communities the opportunity to find community, preserve their identities, and pass on their traditions. As a social service agency, the International Institute has always promoted self-sufficiency and self-reliance. From the 1940’s through the 1970’s our ethnic programming was at the core of our cultural orientation programing. It allowed newcomers to become integrated with dignity and respect as we honored and highlighted the customs they brought to Western New York.
The International Institute’s arts programming has included concerts, cooking, language, textile classes and much more. For generations, the International Institute has been a beloved second home. For the Dante Alighieri Cultural Club, The Polish University Women, Japanese Women’s Club, Hungarian Club, Lithuanian Club, and dozens of others, the Institute was where many of our ancestors came together to celebrate and preserve their cultural identity at a time when it was not easy to do so in the larger community.
In 2016, we’re re-establishing our cultural programming, starting with cultural nights and cooking classes. Beginning in March, we will celebrate a different culture twice a month, featuring a cooking class one evening and a cultural celebration on another night. We’ll begin with eight countries and expand the programming as it grows. This year we’ll be hosting events featuring Italy, India, Germany, Burma, and Somalia among others.
In an increasingly global world, the Institute will remain a place that celebrates diversity and works to remind the WNY community we all share an immigrant past. That is why over the past century, our halls have been filled with sounds from all over the world and smells of international flavors. Whether it is learning how to make ginger coffee or pierogis, watching a concert or dance performance, or learning a few new words in another language, the International Institute’s cultural programming will bring communities together and remind us of long-held family traditions that are a part of Western New York’s cultural fabric.
We need your help to make our plan for cultural nights a reality. We hope to cover the costs of food, supplies and stipends for performers and instructors through your donations. We want to bring you the best of culture in Buffalo. Relaunching the Institute’s cultural calendar will cost $5,000. When we reach our goal, the sounds of music, dance and performance, and the aroma food from all over the world will again fill the Institute. Can you help us restore our arts programming so we can create new memories in 2016?