Residents celebrate, embrace diversity in Garden City

Yoana Cruz speaks to a crowd in Garden City. (Photo courtesy KSN News)

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – Garden City is one of the more diverse communities in Kansas. Residents from different areas around the world who live there took part in a cross-cultural outreach program this week.

Residents gathered to celebrate and discuss the diverse culture of the community

Yoana Cruz’s parents fled El Salvador decades ago and settled in Garden City, a community that is about 50 percent Latino.

“They were able to connect with everybody, and knowing that they felt at home, knowing that there were people with similar background as them,” said Yoana Cruz.

As a child, Cruz had to act as her parents’ translator during doctors visits. Now, Cruz is pursuing a career in hospital administration to help new immigrants in her community.

“I want to be the person that’s going to be able to break those barriers, making sure people have what they need,” said Cruz.

While some communities are under-represented, Alicia Gian-Maciulis never felt out-of-place growing up.

“We were kind of an island unto ourselves, because there weren’t many Iranian people around,” said Gian-Maciulis. “The signs for everything were in English, Vietnamese, and Spanish, so I felt, I felt very comfortable being a multicultural kid.”

Gian-Maciulis said this attitude has only strengthened since last year’s attempted bombing of a Somali apartment complex.

“I think the community even got closer and wanted to connect even more and get to know their new neighbors,” added Gian-Maciulis.

Local pastor Denis Pass felt an obligation to actively support Garden City’s refugees.

“With privilege comes responsibility, and that yes, as a white woman, I have privilege and access to things that I’m not even aware of that I just simply take for granted,” said Rev. Pass.

Pass is currently planning a vigil on the one year anniversary of the bomb plot coming to light.

“To make sure that our neighbors know that they are safe and welcome,” said Rev. Pass. “That we haven’t forgotten either.”

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