Since it was launched in 2010, Cultural Conversations has transformed relationships and perspectives among diverse women in our community through education and storytelling. Monthly gatherings between September and June include women who have moved to Bellevue from all over the world and those who have lived abroad. Currently, there is one evening annual presentation opened to the wider community.
Due to the closure of the city's community centers for safe distancing, Cultural Conversations meetings currently are virtual or outdoor events.
Videos of Evening Forums
Voices Around the Table
"Each time I walk into the room, there is something new that I learn from these beautiful women. Cultural Conversations creates that safe environment where everybody feels comfortable sharing their stories. I am touched by stories of their journey and their resilience. Their courage to speak up is outstanding. I learn about our history of humanity. I begin to reflect and think about my own experiences and journey. It’s sometimes surprising how similar our journeys are. And I leave the room with a wealth of knowledge that is rich and deep and that stays with me."
-- Nura Adam
"I enjoy the warmth, openness and easy entry into worlds and perspectives so different from my own. Every time I walk into a Cultural Conversations gathering, I silently thank my city for getting us together from around the world and facilitating the sharing of vital stories. I'm always fascinated by the storytellers and deeply touched during small group-discussions which explore cross-cultural issues of consequence. Cultural Conversations feeds my soul, and my world expands with each conversation and connection."
-- Lisa Merrill
"We started as strangers. We slowly built connections and now have become a family. Cultural Conversations gives you the space to have open and honest conversations. That's what's remarkable about Cultural Conversations. You meet so many wonderful people and hear their inspiring stories. And it's where I am really comfortable. That's why I never miss a meeting."
-- Nickhath Sheriff
"I didn't expect that the women there would be as warm and open as they were right from the start. There is a sense of safety in Cultural Conversations that allows you to share your story with others, explore where their story and yours overlap, and wonder at and celebrate where the stories are different. This is why I am a part of the program. I go to a meeting with the thought: 'Who am I going to meet today and what interesting conversation am I going to have personally?'"
-- Susan Sullivan
"Cultural Conversations is not just about connecting with women. It’s about connecting with women of the same mindset, or in the same stage of life as one is, or in a similar situation where one needs help. I feel the program is like a book club for the soul. And therein lies its strength and power."
-- Miran Hothi
"I went to my first meeting with no expectations, just in the hopes of making new friends. I had recently moved to Seattle and was always looking for opportunities to meet people. What I experienced was amazing. It opened up a whole new world for me. I found a place that offered warmth, comfort, and a certain familiarity of home. There was a sense of connection. I didn’t feel that I was in a room with strangers. Women reached out to say hello and welcomed me to their table."
-- Sujata Agrawal
"A Year of Storytelling 2015-2016"
Are you looking to understand what Cultural Conversations is all about? Do you want to know what it might be like to attend a meeting? Our publication, A Year of Storytelling and Conversations 2015-2016, provides an overview of the program and a full season of meetings.
How to create your own cultural conversation
How We Got Started
In 2009, the Neighborhood Outreach team went on a "listening tour," visiting neighborhood groups and faith organizations to understand the needs of the community. They heard the same sentiment expressed by everyone they met: “I live in the most diverse community – I see people dressed differently and I hear all these different languages. I want to meet and know them.”
Staff started meeting women informally at the Crossroads Community Center, having tea and talking to them. Soon it became a regular event and they formalized it by naming it "Cultural Conversations."