Over the years, many of us in Great Neck have picked up on Bill's suggestion, and we have made conscious efforts to try to include the newest residents in the life of our community. We know, for example, that the Village of Great Neck often offers Farsi translations in some newsletters; the schools have courses to help newcomers and clubs to allow them to showcase their cultures; the library presents a wide array of programs and materials for everyone; and our newspaper attempts to bring you stories from as many different cultures as there are in this town.
And now, thanks to the Great Neck Park District, we really are ''celebrating our diversity,'' with many cultures coming together to play in the community's newest adult soccer tournament.
For three weekends last month the park district sponsored an adult soccer tournament, complete with an adults-only soccer field at Kings Point Road, officials, and trophies. The soccer teams included a team comprising Persian residents, a team with Hispanic residents from South American countries, two teams from St. Aloysius Church, and the Great Neck Soccer Club.
As a matter of fact, Park Board Chairman Andrew Imperatore reports that the Persian team, the Mashadi Soccer, and the Hispanic Pumas have made their own plans to play each other this winter. Mashadi Co-Captain Joseph Namdar told Mr. Imperatore, ''I never thought we would get along...even though we both lost games, we learned something...and now we will continue to play together.''
Not only have the soccer players enjoyed the games, but residents have come out by the hundreds to watch the tournaments and picnic, together, in the park.
''Together'' is the key word here. Great Neck residents of culturally diverse backgrounds have ''come together'' for entertainment, for fun, for a social time.
A very heart-felt thank you to Commissioner Imperatore and the park board, and Park District Director of Recreation Peter Renick. Last year, Andy Imperatore had the foresight to envision such an inclusive tournament, and Peter Renick literally ''ran with the ball,'' pulling the soccer clubs together, arranging a field, times, officials, all that must be done.
What a magnificent idea! Not just supporting individual efforts of culturally diverse groups, but allowing them the opportunity to come together, to learn about one another, to enjoy one another. I believe that with understanding comes acceptance. The Great Neck Park District has taken a big step in bringing this community closer together. We'll all benefit in the end.