Meet the Founder of World Heritage Cultural Center! - Newtown Moms

Have you heard about the upcoming World of Colors concert happening on 10/1 at Edmond Town Hall? This event is being put on by local non-profit World Heritage Cultural Center (WHCC). The organization’s mission is to share diverse, colorful, and unique cultures from around the world, creating a global village to foster tolerance, appreciation, and unity. By leveraging the arts (performance, culinary, fashion, and visual), WHCC teaches about world culture & heritage, fostering a greater understanding, respect, and love among the diverse people on this planet.. 

WHCC was founded and is run by resident Sattie Persaud (you may recognize her name as her family owns the Dodgingtown Market & Deli). I had an opportunity to meet with Sattie this past week and learn more about WHCC, her WHY, and this exciting event. And spoiler, she has BIG plans for future events.

Sattie, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me! Newtown Moms is happy to be included as one of your sponsors. Can you start off by sharing a bit of your background and how the World Heritage Cultural Center started?

That’s a great question, Meghan! My organization is not a hobby but rather an extension of myself. When I found myself in a very dark situation—an arranged marriage while I was still a teen—the Universe gave me a torch to light my way out. I got the opportunity to live with relatives as their nanny, took on three part-time jobs, and was able to put myself through college (my dream). After achieving that, I began working at IBM, and I asked myself, “What can I do to give back to the world?” 

This is how the organization was born. My quest to share this light I was given to find my voice and live my dream led me to World Heritage Cultural Center.  I still have my full-time day job as senior foreign exchange manager at corporate treasury in Otis Elevator (CT), and I co-own Dodgingtown Market & Deli with my sister Gita, or “G” as many know her. 

I am of Indian (India) descent, the eighth generation born in Guyana (British) and brought up in Suriname (Dutch) in South America. I learned a lot from our past when researching for my novel Colors of Fate (not yet published), which is based on my ancestor’s journey from India to South America.  

My family lived a humble life in Suriname—my job from age 7 through 11 was to sell candy and cigarettes in front of our house after school. All the women in my family before me, even my sister Gita, got married at the age of 13 and were usually grandmothers by 26. My sister’s daughters both grew up in the United States, though, so she ended that cycle.

When it was my time to get married, I didn’t want to accept our cultural tradition. I fought off a few offers, but eventually had to accept an arranged marriage. Luckily, because of this marriage, I came to the United States. Long story short, my very brief marriage didn’t work. 

In all the chaos of accepting my fate and putting on a brave face, one moment defined my love for humanity. I am very stubborn and wanted to go to school once I was in the United States, but I had no help. I got a job at Taco Bell, my very first employer, and saved enough money to pay for an accounting course that I saw on TV.  We were in Minnesota, so I walked to the mall for my shifts in single-digit weather in the open-toe shoes that I brought with me from Suriname and my only light coat. Don’t ask how I crossed a four-lane highway and climbed the hill to the mall in the dark! I was usually late for class, but it ended up being the key to my future. 

On the way back home one day, a bus driver scolded me for how I was dressed. I explained my situation and also that I didn’t have any money for a cab and didn’t know anyone who could drive me. Silence. Then he started mumbling about not losing his job, his pension. I wasn’t sure what he meant, until he left his route and drove me home, about 15 miles out of his way. 

This gentleman showed me the best humanity has to offer: kindness. I don’t even know his name, but I thank him every day by giving back! The Universe sent this person to help keep me safe, which started a pretty amazing ripple effect that eventually allowed me to leave a bad situation, earn a college degree, and help my family get settled here in the United States, which gave my siblings, nieces, nephews, and my parents a better quality of life. My parents always taught us that love doesn’t start at the front door and end at the back door. The gift I received form the Universe is something I need to share, and this is how my nonprofit was born. 

Don’t underestimate the power of the human bond, for it represents hope. And hope presents a platform for humanity to have the conversations we were meant to have, of love, of compassion, of peace. Hope helps us transcend war or discrimination due to social and religious barriers. 

What drives you to continue to to grow and expand WHCC to reach more people?
Cultural diversity is the glue that holds humanity together, and it’s as important as biodiversity is to nature: the more diverse we are, the better chance we have of thriving.

Two pieces of advice that I live by:

1) Never forget where you come from.

2) We never get what we want 100% of the time, but we must mold what we do get to become what we want. 

I give gratitude every day for the gift of finding my voice by giving back. This is my drive. I want all cultures to have a voice on the global stage.

My family and I have been living in Connecticut for the past decade, six years of that in Newtown. We own businesses here, and I would like to open the World Heritage Cultural Center headquarters here too. I’m looking at a building at the Fairfield Hills Campus so I can expand my vision of giving a voice to others.

WHCC Flyer for World of Colors Concert

Can you tell me a bit about what to expect on 10/1? Where can people purchase tickets? 

We’re really excited about our World of Colors Concert on October 1, 2022, where we will celebrate humanity through the arts and promote unity in diversity.  This event is about empowering our community with World Heritage Cultural Center’s mission, inviting people to be part of an important legacy for future generations. 

This event is black tie and features a red carpet. Here is the schedule of events:
• 3:00PM to 4:30PM – International Red Carpet Gala Reception—160 countries will be in attendance with 100 local and nationwide news sources such as CNN, ABC, CBS, and CT Magazine.
• 5:00PM to 8:30PM – Concert with 21 countries on stage 
• 8:30PM to 10:30PM – Gala reception—light appetizers and drinks are included  

Tickets are being sold at the Dodgingtown Market & Deli for $75 per person. You can also purchase online here

This is our 246th concert since 2009. Pre-pandemic, we traveled to about 16 states across the United States with the Travel & Adventure shows and worked with venues such as Times Square. We are thrilled to have a live event again this year! 

What other upcoming events do you have planned?
We have formed a relationship with Newtown High School and hope to curate some cultural camps next summer.

In addition, we are doing a fundraiser at Newtown High School on April 22, 2023. The Evan & Friends Painting the World Brighter One Charity at a Time committee was formed 10 years ago by my 5-year-old nephew. He raised money with his artwork that was displayed in Danbury by a friend. He gave 90% of the profit to help support an orphanage in India that needed $1,000 for the year to stay open. Since then, we have raised funds by selling artwork by kids through Evan & Friends. These funds are sent to help organizations in the United States and beyond through U.S. based organizations.  

In 2023, we are raising funds for displaced kids from Ukraine. We are sending 100% of funds raised to Ukrainian groups in need. All schools and kids are welcome to donate artwork to sell, not just students from Newtown High School.

Also, we are implementing the Sandy Hook International Film Festival next fall. We have a youth division for submissions by film-makers under 18, as well. We are setting up a committee with citizens from Newtown to empower the community to help make this festival the best it can be next year and for years after that!

What is the best way for someone to get involved with WHCC?
If you are interested in volunteer opportunities, please email: [email protected] or call our main line at (203) 489-0963.

Finally, I want to ask you a few fun questions:

Favorite restaurant in town? (in addition to Dodgingtown Market)
My family loves food. We literally visit every restaurant in town. I should probably start documenting that.   But my favorite meal is always in my mother’s and sister’s kitchens: soul food!

Favorite spot in Newtown/Sandy Hook?
Lake Zoar – about a block away from my house! I’m getting a boat for next summer!

Food you can’t live without?
I love all kinds of food. In Suriname, we have a mixture of almost every continent in the world, and the fusion of spices is incredibly addicting. The one thing I need for every meal is my mom’s homemade hot sauce made from all sorts of super-hot peppers, including habaneros. When eating out, jalapeños are a good substitute.

Morning person or night owl?
Definitely a night owl. My inspiration comes at night, whether I like it or not.
When I wrote my novel, I would be inspired from 11pm to like 3am and had to write!

Favorite place to travel?
Earth for now 😊 and anywhere close to the ocean.

A few examples of the groups performing on 10/1.

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