BOSTON — Nancy Kalajian is not one to rest on her many laurels. The longtime educator took advantage of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to take a food and immigration-related course this summer in New York.
Kalajian, a journalist in the Armenian- American community, took a course titled, “Recipe for America: New York, Immigration and American Identity through Culinary Culture.” Kalajian was among 25 participants from across the country attending a special institute set up for teachers dealing with matters of immigration, assimilation and food culture in New York City during the 19th and 20th centuries. More than 200 applications were received. Kalajian was the only resident from Massachusetts to win the honor and one of only two from New England.
To apply to the institute, Kalajian prepared an essay and secured references from two school administrators from Tewksbury Public Schools, where she works as a Title I reading teacher for third and fourth graders.
The institute was hosted by the New York Public Library (NYPL) and was presented in conjunction with “Lunch Hour,” an NYPL exhibition about food in New York City which draws from the library’s vast materials, including its cookbook and menu collections.
The program addressed cultural traditions, the formation of ethnic neighborhoods and interactions with the broader American culture.
“It was an extraordinary experience,” said Kalajian. “We had lots of reading to do each