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The mayor of Billings hosts an intercultural banquet as a celebration



Billings, Montana – With 320 attendees and 45 languages, the second annual Mayor’s Global Languages Dinner in Billings has doubled in size.

While not official, some figures indicate that Billings has a greater global reach.

For the Friday dinner, international flags were suspended from the ceiling of the second floor of the Northern Hotel.

“I kept running into people who were not from the United States here in Billings, which is the most ethnically and linguistically diverse city by far of any city in Montana,” said Billings Mayor Bill Cole.

And, according to the U.S. Census, it’s getting more diverse.

Although 87% of Billings’ population is white, African Americans have increased by 25% and American Indians by 13% during the past ten years. The Asian Pacific Islander community in Billings has likewise grown by 42%.

Cole claimed that the number of persons whose first language is not English has increased in Billings.

“You have a sense of belonging when you also have a group of Spanish speakers,” said Maggie Arbuckle. “It doesn’t matter where they’re from.”

Bolivian by birth, Arbuckle. She claims that making connections with other Spanish speakers, like Luly Borla, has been crucial for her.

“We share traditions and we share things that we know, our language or food,” Borla said.

Venezuelan-born Borla has lived in Montana for 21 years.

“It’s always nice to connect with the people that are from other countries and understand your culture,” Borla said.

“I love to see different people,” Arbuckle said.

And according to the mayor, Friday night’s supper is all about honoring the differences and similarities among billions of people.

“Virtually everybody here is an American,” Cole said. “Virtually everybody here is a Montanan. And almost everybody is from Billings, Montana. And this is home.”


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