Picei Logo in Brasher Falls, NY Pamoja International Cultural Exchange Inc.
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Pamoja International Cultural Exchange, Inc. (PICEI)

"Ahead of Its Time"



To obtain a printable copy of the two most recent publications:

• Return to the HOME page.
• Click on the cover of the publication of your choice.
• For all other back issues of “PICEI CONNECTED” call 1 866 660 5116 to place a special order of an off-line issue at the current cost.

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Foreign Travel Brasher Falls NY

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The Beginning:

In 1982, a group of business executives and concerned people founded the PICEI organization under the leadership of Florence Patterson, felt then and now a great need to Understand, Respect, and Share Diverse Culture. It was in Deer Park, New York (which is located in Suffolk County), where PICEI was born. Its chartered members: C. Adkinson, C. Alexander, M. Anderson, N. Anderson, E. Asher, M. Boyd, M. Burgess, M. Butler, D. Cooper, S. Dastidar, E. Ghoram, M. Glenn, C. M. Green, C. Green-Patterson, P. Gullo, S. Mc Danel, E. McKinney, O. Munto, C. Mitchell, P. O'Brien, M. Parker, C. Patterson Jr., F. Patterson, A. Praileau, Z.V. Prescott, J. Reavis, D. Singletary, C. Williams, R. Wyche, knew then, there was a need for a Non Profit, Non Political, and Non religious organization such as PICEI. This organization would focus on the positive and the contributions to the world by all nations, which would aid in having a "Better Understanding" of all people. Then, Now and Always PICEI serves as an umbrella organization where all are welcome.

The Name:

From the roots of Africa.... A Swahili word, Pamoja is a word which means together, (togetherness) and was adapted as part of our name to stress the oneness of our work, as suggested by one of the original founders, Carl Patterson, Jr. We feel the name reminds us to work together for the good of all.

The Motivation:
The first Festival was given on the streets of Deer Park, L.I. on Tell and Maida Avenues in 1983. The success of that Festival, lead the group to plan for a larger and even more inclusive cultural event. All the proper planning, site arrangements and programs for this event were in place. However, the fear of diverse culture embarking upon Suffolk County on such a large and professional scale caused the community to panic and therefore, generated a reaction to try and sabotage the event.

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However, we did not let that interfere with the continuation of sharing the knowledge of the beauty of all cultures. At that time there were less than ½% African American in the area, very few Latinos or Puerto Rican, no Asians, or other nationalities of color. We realized that the need was even greater than originally thought for educating the general public. The government was very supportive. Some of the officials of the government like Babylon Town Supervisor Hannington and Congressman Halpin were among those who shared their positive thoughts on the diversity issue during the eight-hour Telethon that was conducted in collaboration with the Brentwood Youth Division of Suffolk County and UNICEF to raise funds for children at home and abroad. Viola Bass, one of the very active members and Florence Patterson worked side by side for many hours directing the production, editing the film and successfully marketing the product to many Cable stations. The telethon took on a life of its own as total communities in Deer Park, Brentwood, and Islip, received the security provided by the Brentwood Police Department. We were very grateful for the protection given to stars and the event. PICEI received many awards and proclamations for its community work in the area of culture. The community knowledge about diversity grew as time went on.

The Vision:
Exposure of diverse cultures through the Arts and other proven methods. Thereby, creating a world with a better understanding of each other, which will generate respect and love for all mankind.


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The Mission:
To coordinate and provide a common place for all cultural groups to display their talents under one umbrella.
To enhance the understanding of all nationalities through the performing and visual arts.
To place the emphasis on creativity, not competition.
To increase the knowledge of other's and one's own heritage.
To unite all nationalities, while ensuring that they remain distinct.
To allow cultural expressions by the old and the young.
To provide tourism, which will increase revenue and jobs.

The Move:

In 1987, the headquarters relocated in the North Country in the town of Brasher Falls and later developed offices in Fort Covington and Potsdam, New York. PICEI began to work within the Salmon River Central School District with similar programs of diverse culture. In that location the founding and organizing members were: Jaime Bova, Patricia Bova, Elizabeth DiVita, Ramona DiVita, Debbie, Dona Ensign, Courtlan Green, Kimberly Harmon, Jean Herne, Justin Moulton, Pat Musante, Carl Patterson, Chrysetta Patterson, Inez Patterson, Florence Patterson, Donna Riley, Donna Smith, Frank Visconti, and Millie Visconti.

The Store:

The PICEI store housed cultural items, made by the individuals of a specific culture to highlight their talent and gifts. The store came into being as a result of the PICEI's headquarters now being located in an economically deprived area. Therefore, the youth and adults were not able to obtain employment, which caused approximately 75% of the population to accept public assistance at that time, before the industry of Correctional Facilities. (There were only two industries in the area then, Reynolds and Alcoa) The PICEI store made it possible for the community to get the necessary health and other items needed for free. Those that could afford gave a donation.

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Some bought the cultural works that were there on consignment. The community enjoyed this much-needed store from 1989 to 2001. They enjoyed the fact that there was a setup that allowed for meeting, eating and learning. The store served as a training center for youth and adults. The youth were employed there through the summer program of the State. They learned to use the computer, proper telephone techniques, salesmanship and record keeping knowledge. They assisted with the preparations for workshops, the Summer Camp Programs and other events. Children of different nationalities worked together peacefully and respectfully. Many adults, who were on welfare learned office and sales procedures there.

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They also liked the idea that they could work there and that the community could come there and receive the necessary items needed free, without the stigma of looking as though they were receiving handouts. Unfortunately, the store is no longer in existence. However, we are hopeful that the idea will be copied by other organizations or perhaps PICEI will put into action again in the near future.

The Exchange: 

Various activities were scheduled to help bring about cultural awareness. Some of the ways it was done:

Monthly Meetings featuring a guest speaker who would bring items to show and talk about their particular culture. These meetings were always open to the general public, which was attended by both the youth and adults. These presentations were in the form of demonstrations, slides, films, music, dance and culinary.

After School Workshops These free programs included fashion shows for self esteem building at the end of each session in the Malls, and Schools of the community. They often presented the American Indian culture dress, and showed the similarities of many cultures. Other workshops consisted of culinary arts, cosmetology, as well as arts and craft of all cultures.

Tours like our annual cruises to Bermuda, land trips to places such as Canada and various States including Washington D.C. with visits to the White House and Smithsonian Institution. Trips to the United Nations in New York, other institutions and restaurants to enjoy the diverse cuisine.

Festivals that addressed the many cultures of the world, the familiar, like European and the unfamiliar, such as African and Asian cultures. PICEI was the energizer for communities and college institutions embracing free Cultural Diversity Day in their neighborhoods.

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Story Telling

often arranged programs of culture for local schools and other events, featuring African Story Tellers.


Flamenco dancing, Japanese plays, and many other unique artistic performances were presented for the community, with Themes like "It's a Small World".


These free movies were shown once a month on Fridays, which brought the family together. This well attended program by the Dads with their children, was called "Kids Nite Out and Adults too". During intermission, the families who brought cultural items for display, were so proud to describe them and share information of what, how and why the items came into existence. Most of the movies shown were of a positive cultural nature.


PICEI amazingly operated without a paid staff. All of the administrators were volunteers. They provided these programs through membership donations, advertisement ads in the publications, community contributions of in-kind services, fund raising events, and three years of approximately $5,000.00 in grants from the N.Y.S. Division for Youth and the local N.Y.S. Arts Council.

We continue to provide services to the communities to complete the Mission.