Nearly 80 years ago, my grandmother immigrated from Asia to settle in Southern California. Her family was a minority in their neighborhood, and quickly had to adapt to the American culture around them. Over the decades, hundreds of thousands of immigrants have come to LA to start a new life. Some like her were escaping war and poverty; others have come though they are wealthy and influential in their home country in pursuit of the balmy California weather or business opportunities. Today, LA has more than 300 ethnic groups, and a recent study by USC noted that approximately 3.5 million immigrants call Los Angeles County home, which is more than a third of the total population! For those of us living here, there is endless opportunity to meet people literally from all over the world.
As a member of the Los Angeles Guild cohort, I have had some amazing opportunities to explore the ethnic corners of Los Angeles. I observe that many immigrants own businesses and offer unique foods and goods, so it is easy to connect with them as you shop at their stores and learn more about their traditions. As God has grown my heart for people from other cultures, I often choose to to step out of my comfort zone and shop at restaurants and stores where I know I will meet people from other countries. I have found that genuine interest in them and their goods, along with a friendly smile, goes a long way in getting to connect with the people who own or shop in these businesses.
Where else could I get donuts from a Cambodian family, spices and rice from a Sikh family, groceries from a Middle Eastern market, my haircut from a Polish family, and beautiful shirts from “Little India?” I am so blessed to live here in Los Angeles and pray that God might use me to be a blessing to the people around me!
For those of you from other Guild cohorts, what sort of ethnic populations do you encounter?