Whether it is learning about one’s ancestors or learning to appreciate other cultures, the International Cottages of the House of Pacific Relations has it all. The cottages are located in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The goal of the HPR is to “further the pursuit of ‘pacific’ or peaceful relations among nations”.
Each house represented in the International Cottages displays cultural information and items relevant to their country. It is a great way to get a taste of a culture. On Saturdays and Sundays, the cottages are open from 11am to 4 pm. Visitors can view the cottages and on Sundays can enjoy refreshments from the culture (donations are welcome). Some cottages also provide refreshments on Saturdays as well.
Houses also put on performances at the stage. This may include music, dancing, singing, etc… Annual special events include an Ethnic Food Fair, and the International Christmas Festival celebrated at the Park’s December Nights. During these annual events, all the cottages are opened and ethnic food is available for purchase.
The HPR is a non-profit organization. Anyone can become a member to one of the houses. Many people who grew up in a country and then moved to the United States will join to stay connected to their culture and share it with others. A membership application/fee is required as well as volunteering at the house of choice. This is a great way to use a language with (in many cases) native speakers of the country. Each house has their own functions. In some, there a choirs to join or language courses. Some get together for coffee and to talk. Holidays are also celebrated with special functions just for members.
The HPR also has a Queens Organization. This is for young members of the houses. A Queen and Princesses can serve from each house. The Queens act as ambassadors for their house and preform cultural dances and do charitable work throughout the community. “The HPR Queens Organization fosters a spirit of understanding, tolerance and goodwill between all races and nationalities, and prepares its members to be adult members of their Houses.”
Visiting Balboa Park’s International Cottages is a great way to spend an afternoon and learn about different cultures. An excellent way to introduce young children to many different cultures at once. For more information visit: http://www.sdhpr.org/aboutus.html
As always, Happy Travels!