Stephen Kidd explains how his involvement with several projects during his time at the Smithsonian illuminated the powerful role of the humanities in cultivating cross-cultural community. One project, which focused on food cultures, celebrated culinary legacies as the owner of a New York Jewish delicatessen passed down the business to an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. Another project considered how the AIDS quilt fostered a sense of community in the midst of a public health crisis. Finally, in 2002 the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which centered on the Silk Road, attracted a multitude of international participants from countries in the Middle East and Central Asia. In the wake of 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, over one million guests converged on the National Mall to engage with and learn from each other, helping bridge cultures in the shadow of violence.

– Stephen Kidd (Executive Director, National Humanities Alliance)