Seeking Diversity in Scottsdale


diversity in Scottsdale, Somali, culture, multicultural experiences

We live in one of the most amazing towns. There really isn’t a day driving down the 101 to my home when I don’t gaze at Camelback as the sun sets and sigh a happy sigh. It is breathtaking. For all its desert beauty, there is one thing about our community that I hope continues to change. Hopefully, our population diversity will be as intricately lovely as our land.

Without diversity at our fingertips, we need to put in a bit of effort to get to know other cultures. This can be monumentally important for our children. As the world becomes smaller and our cities more internationally diverse, our children can benefit greatly from learning about other people groups.

Even as a multi-ethnic family grown through adoption, my little ones have used words like “weird” when describing something new. Through exposure and discussion, we’ve given them wording to use like “unique” or “neat” or simply “different.” That happens through exposure.

Additionally, if you are a transplant from a more diverse area, this can be a challenging aspect of settling in here. If you are used to being able to eat any ethnic food you want, to hear any music you want or to attend any performance you want, it can be discouraging to be in a more homogenous area. There are some really neat things happening in the Phoenix area, however.

For instance, there are 15, 000 Somalis in Phoenix. The news covers civil war, strife or pain in Somalia. Rarely, if ever, do we get to see the beauty of this African country. Later this month is an opportunity to experience this in a Peace Feast. This is simply a meal to love our neighbors by eating at their restaurants and enjoying great cuisine. We get a richer piece of an amazing culture and get to support local business!

 Zainab’s East African & Mediterranean restaurant is hosting a night to taste and experience of Somali culture, and an opportunity to meet your Somali neighbors on Saturday, April 27th at 6:00pm. A $20 ticket includes a drink, meal, tip and entertainment. RSVP to Patti Zerr at [email protected]

I’ve given you one idea. What are your favorite multi-cultural activities to do around town?

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons user Lacatholique with edits via PicMonkey


  1. This is such an awesome post, Cate. With our great desire to adopt a child from a different race than our own, living in Scottsdale was concerning to us. We knew diverse community had to exist but we certainly weren’t immersed in it. San Diego provides an abundance of diversity and for that we are thankful (for lots of reasons) but I love that you are highlighting some things to do in the valley of the sun!

  2. Hmmm — there may not be a lot of diversity in Scottsdale (I don’t live there), but if you’re willing to take a 15- to 30-minute drive around the valley, there has always been diversity in Phoenix, Tempe and other areas of the valley, so it is funny to hear statements that we don’t have diversity in AZ (I know you’re saying Scottsdale but I’ve heard people comment about this before in general about AZ, and I find it stunning because I think we have a lot of diversity. I also think the valley has more “mixing” in terms of multicultural/multiracial families than most places (e.g., go to the Phx Zoo or mall and look at the families there — it’s not just all-black or all-white families, I see a lot of multiracial/ethnic families that have black/white, Hispanic/Asian, black/Hispanic, white/Asian, etc parents — other “diverse” cities I’ve been to may have large ethnic populations but not as much mixing, that I’ve seen). I was born in Asia, but grew up in Phoenix in the 80s and I personally saw a lot of diversity here. Perhaps because I grew up in a close-knit immigrant community, I saw a lot of ethnic/cultural interaction within the Filipino and Chinese communities, but I also see similar groups/restaurants/activities with other cultures in the valley: Hispanic and Native American communities/restaurants/festivals (of course!), Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Ethiopian, Serbian, Somali, etc. There is a tremendous amount of diversity in Phoenix, access to ethnic foods (Asian and African supermarkets, restaurants and communities), and there are many cultural festivals. Just last weekend the local Catholic Polish community had their annual Polish Festival (including flying in Polish dancers and other representatives from Poland). There are also these annual festivals that my family attends every year: Chinese Cultural Festival (COFCO Chinese Cultural Center), Aloha Festival (Tempe), Dragon Boat Races (Tempe), Matsuri Festival (Heritage Park), Scottish Highland Games (Indian Steele), Philippine Independence Day Celebration (ASU West), Native American Hoop Dancing Competition (Heard Museum — and then take a 5-minute drive to the yummy Fry Bread House). These are just based on our family’s interests. I haven’t googled, but I’m pretty sure you can find similar ones for other specific ethnic groups you’re interested in. Again, I can’t comment on Scottsdale, but there is diversity and opportunities for your children to be exposed in AZ — you just need to look for it!

    • TF! Thanks for sharing your ideas! You are so right that just because a place is more diverse does not mean it is unified. I do think we are blessed in that way here in Phoenix. It does take a bit of research, but we do have great things just outside of Scottsdale! 🙂


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