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Intersections: Two cultures join to celebrate common dreams

August 20, 2012

Armenian and Korean immigrant communities have been living side by side in the pockets of Los Angeles for decades, but beyond the namesakes of Little Armenia and Koreatown, they've quietly and mutually called the Crescenta Valley home too.

So when the idea came up a year-and-a-half ago among community leaders to collaborate on a multicultural festival, it almost seemed like a non-question.

In less than three weeks, the Korean Armenian Cultural Festival — organized by the Korean-American Federation of North Los Angeles and the Armenian Community and Youth Center in Montrose — will make its debut at the Crescenta Valley Park.

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At the two-day event, to be held on Sept. 15 and 16, expect to find Korean and Armenian BBQ, dance groups, martial arts exhibitions, traditional wedding displays, cultural arts and crafts and probably what I'm personally most looking forward to: K-Pop, or Korean pop music that has delightfully transcended beyond the borders of South Korea, gaining fans across the world.

Plus, there's going to be a roaring rendition of the international sensation, “Gangnam Style,” you won't want to miss. And if you don't know what that is, drop everything and go to YouTube immediately.

I've been to many Armenian festivals, as well as those focusing on other single ethnic groups, but when I heard about this multicultural event so close to home, a mild version of euphoria set in. The idea that I can experience so much of the world in L.A. all at once is one of the best and most underrated characteristics of this city that I treasure.

Yes, we all come from different lands, struggles, dreams and nightmares, but we're here now, and we need to cherish that too.

At a time when racism, xenophobia and being shot and killed for simply looking or believing in something different is a reality, a celebration of diversity is a welcome change.

James Pak, representing the Korean community, and Arick Gevorkian, from the Armenian community — both of whom had a huge role in organizing the event — told me over the weekend how important it was not only to form strong bonds between Armenian and Korean-Americans, but to use this festival as a tool for letting others know the benefits of working together, instead of against each other.

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