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Cross Cultural Connections Through Origami

Hundreds of Origami paper cranes, called "tsuru" in Japanese, can be found in West Harlem, at a community kitchen that serves meals to hundreds of New Yorkers in need each day.

This art installation was created by Mr. Gregory M. Bruce (Bows Nouveau), a dedicated Food Bank For New York City senior volunteer and member of Food Bank's Harlem Senior Community Center. Mr. Bruce hung over 500 tsuru individually, color-coded and in flying formation, from the ceiling of Food Bank's dining area.

Volunteers from our Consulate, JAANY (The Japanese American Association of New York) and other Japan-related organizations had made most of these paper cranes, Japanese symbols of peace, to give to Food Bank clients on March 11th, the anniversary of Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami. For the past six years, on 3/11 and 9/11, we've made these days of service and of gratitude for help received.

Mr. Bruce created this cross-cultural art exhibition with these tsuru, and calls it "Soaring Souls," in remembrance of the tragedies suffered by both countries and as encouragement for those struggling to find food and hope, as he once had when he was a homeless Air Force veteran and victim of tragic family loss. Years after a Food Bank employee invited him into their community kitchen, he now lives independently, with his own bow-tie designing business, and works as an advocate for food insecurity awareness.

We at the Consulate are grateful to Mr. Gregory Bruce for creating this beautiful symbol of friendship and genuine connection, between our two countries, and the Japan-related and West Harlem communities. To those who work at this wonderful nonprofit providing nearly 60 million meals a year to under served New Yorkers and help individuals like Gregory Bruce rebuild their lives, we greatly appreciate the chances to volunteer at Food Bank and to become a welcomed part of their community.