Pittsburgh serves as main course for One Young World

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, 11:15 p.m.

Josie Badger ate up her One Young World experience last year in Zurich. Yet, she says, she left Switzerland with little flavor of the country's largest city.

“I didn't get to know people from Zurich,” said Badger, 28, of Ross. “I really didn't get to know the cultural environment.”

Organizers of this week's summit in Pittsburgh hope to change that. They made it a point to put the host city on center stage for the 1,300 young leaders attending the summit by holding events in premier venues such as Heinz Hall and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, and hosting 120 dinners in homes and other locations throughout the area. That was not part of the lineup in London and Zurich, the only other cities to host the annual conference of 20-something leaders from 180 countries.

Badger will host a dinner for about a dozen delegates from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Qatar with about 30 total guests — including her parents, who own a farm in Lawrence County.

The menu's theme is pure Americana: Thanksgiving, complete with turkey and gravy, potatoes, stuffing and cranberries, and pies — pumpkin and apple.

“I thought these dinners were a perfect way to show what real Americans and Pittsburghers are like and to hear their stories,” said Badger, a wheelchair user and disability advocate who is a health care ethics doctoral student at Duquesne University.

She attended last year's summit as a delegate. This year, she will attend as an ambassador and will address the assembly on Saturday. The four-day event will start on Thursday.

“I am a bit overwhelmed,” Badger said. “But I am excited about the dinner.”

So is Supriya Chordia, who is hosting up to eight delegates from countries such as Colombia and Sudan at her Fox Chapel home. Her husband, Lalit Chordia, is CEO of Thar Technologies and a board member of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, part of the One Young World Pittsburgh Partnership.

“We love to host people,” Supriya Chordia said. “We never say no.”

Although she considered taking the delegates out to dinner, Chordia said organizers preferred that the dinner take place in her home.

The meal will be purely vegetarian, with a menu featuring popular Indian dishes, including cheese paneer in a tomato gravy, a potato and cauliflower dish called aloo gobi, savory fried pastries known as samosas, naan bread, rice pilaf and other courses still being planned, Chordia said.

“I'm looking forward the most to meeting these young people and seeing what they think about what is happening in the world today,” she said.

Although most dinners are by invitation only, the New Pittsburgh Collaborative is hosting a “Burgh Meets (One Young) World” event on Saturday night in Shadow Lounge in East Liberty, which is open to the public. Tickets are $25 and include food from restaurants, a complimentary drink, activities and a chance to meet people attending the summit.

“The goal is not just to feed them but to make connections between Pittsburgh and the world,” said Lee Ann Pontis, incoming vice president of the coalition of local civic- and young-minded organizations.

“By highlighting the great things happening in Pittsburgh to some of the best and brightest young innovators from around the world, we are hoping to facilitate longer-term connections and create an impact on the city, which can result in longer-term economic impacts,” said Amiena Mahsoob, deputy director of education at the World Affairs Council and a New Pittsburgh Collaborative member.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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