By Kate Tobiasson, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Life in Westborough is full of diversity, but few residents have a chance to celebrate the rich cultures and perspectives that fill the town. Neighbors on Valley Brook Road are working together to celebrate their differences, and to get to know one another. Each fall, the neighborhood holds a celebratory block party, and this spring, they held their third annual “Around the World House Hop.”
Jeannette McCarthy, who has lived in Westborough for seven years with her family, brought the idea of the Around the World Event to her neighbors.
“I’ve come to see that Westborough is what you make of it. It is important for residents to be change if they want to see change,” she smiled. “This is a great event for our neighbors to get to know one another.”
This year, nine different families helped host the “Around the World House Hop” event, in seven different homes. Each station in the event takes on a country, hosts a “passport stamping station,” prepares 2-3 dishes of food and drink, music and possibly an activity. The event had over 70 neighborhood participants this year.
“It is 45 minutes at each house,” McCarthy explained. “My husband is the tour guide, and leads everyone around the neighborhood. We have a flag with the world on it, and we stick it in the front yard of the house that we’re visiting, so that if people are going about their day but would like to stop by, they can join. The party lasts from 2-11 p.m. and it is a long day, but people can participate for a little while if that’s all that they’re able to do.”
“The cool thing is that we get to learn about our neighbors, who have roots from all over the world. We have Swedish, Ukrainian, Japanese and Irish neighbors… everyone pulls a piece of their history,” McCarthy said. “It is wonderful to be able to expose our kids to these cultures, and to try the food. It is fun for the kids to say that they went to a party and had borscht!”
Connor McCarthy, Jeannette’s son smiled, “My favorite thing about the party is eating a different variety of food and traveling around the world.”
“My favorite thing was all the food at the houses and just being together with our neighbors,” added his brother, Owen.
With the hurried lifestyles of 2019, it is wonderful to see neighbors like those on Valley Brook Road taking the time to open their homes to their neighbors, and to share a piece of their culture. This event has helped the neighborhood develop lasting connections, and created a strong sense of community on the street. And, it is just plain fun.
“This event helps me get to see the best neighbors in the world,” grinned young Grace Parenti.
“It is great to thank the hosts of this events, but I always want to remind everyone that we are lucky to have people who want to come and participate; this event is about everyone who comes together,” McCarthy said. “People might be reluctant to join if they’re not hosting, but that isn’t what this is about. It is about creating community.”