The Lancaster Chamber strives to provide opportunity for local business and community leaders to share their insight and perspective on a variety of current topics.
This Words That Activate Change series is focused on uplifting voices in our community that encourage dialogue, cultivate transformation, offer thought-provoking ideas, and challenge all of us to be better, be stronger, and, most importantly, be advocates for systemic change within both our community and our workforce.
Our eighth article is by Cinthia Kettering. Cinthia was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She has been married for 20 years, has 4 kids, a Cane Corso, has visited over 50 countries and she loves to travel. Cinthia is a community leader and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in finance and over 12 years of experience in the insurance and real estate investment industry. Cinthia has an Associate Degree in Banking Technology, a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Financial Planning. Cinthia volunteers many hours of her time to different non-profit organizations and serves on different advisory boards such as Fulton Bank and CASA. She is a published author, has a travel blog: www.travelingourworldwithck.com, and is the owner of CMK Global Consulting LLC.
A Taste of Community And Diversity
By Cinthia Kettering
I was born and raised in Ecuador and the one thing I miss about my native country is the food — from ceviche, llapingachos, fritada, and empanadas to the fresh fruit, vegetables, and seafood. Many people that know me understand that I love to try food that has a variety of flavors, colors and textures. I also appreciate a great wine. A blended one is basically diversity in a bottle.
Ethnic foods were difficult to find when I arrived in Lancaster 20 years ago. Since then, we have seen an influx of immigrants from all over the world who have brought different cultures and traditions along with them. Lancaster’s evolving demographics have provided opportunities to experience Trinidadian dishes downtown to Colombian or Peruvian beverages on Columbia Avenue. People can stop by a Dominican shop for empanadas for lunch and sample Thai or Greek meals for dinner. There are many more wonderful examples that can be mentioned.
I make it a point to engage the people who run these shops and restaurants. It is important to me that I show my children that we need to support our community. I tell them that we may look and speak differently, or encounter people of few words, but if we get to know each other and give one another a chance, we will all learn something new and be better for it. Food is the perfect vehicle for this as it is the common language for the dozens of cultures that exist in Lancaster County. Challenge your palate; bring yourself into a more positive stance in your own community. I hope that in time my children will realize and completely understand all of this.
When it comes to experiences and inclusion, I have not always been accepted. I have a discernible accent. There will always be someone who will simply not accept me. However, their disdain doesn’t affect me. I still continue with a positive attitude and focus on teaching my own children about acceptance. I cannot be swayed by the few who choose not to embrace differences.
As human beings, we are not perfect. We all experience some form of prejudice towards us, and we act upon our own prejudices towards others. Change must begin with us; we must be the change we want to see. We must be more inclusive, embrace diversity, engage the entire community, teach our children, employees, and students not to judge quickly. Wherever we live, study, or work, there will always be someone different, and it is in our benefit to be understanding. We can learn so much from people with different backgrounds from our own. Accepting diversity can be tough for some, but at the end of the day, we must continue going forward. We need to be open-minded.
Let’s circle back to food, the universal language. I am sure many of you have at least tried a couple of these wonderful ethnic restaurants and I am sure you have enjoyed them. If you have not tried them yet, take time to expand your culinary senses — you will be surprised by the extraordinary dishes you will find. Taste Lancaster’s incredible diversity; enhance your mindset, and look toward promoting inclusion. We are stronger than ever and there is no doubt, we are better off by being diverse.
Catch up on other articles in this series:
The Lancaster Chamber is also sourcing inclusivity & anti-racism training and hosting conversations on diversity, equity and inclusion with a focus on action. We are committed to making changes within our own organization to better serve everyone in Lancaster County.