top of page

The first institute of it's kind in U.S. History!


The WRF Culture & Heritage Institute consists of community leaders, politicians and educators of the Roma Diaspora and was formed to protect the Roma cultural and heritage practices from disappearing because of lack of use, curricular exclusion, or devaluation by the broader society. We feel it is important to spend the time and energy to protect our cultural heritage, especially in moments where our people are suffering due to a humanitarian crisis. 

The idea of preservation is integral to the definition of cultural heritage, as in order for cultural heritage to exist, it must continue to be passed on as it has for generations and preserved by the current generation.


However, throughout different periods and places in history, the “present generation” of the time has placed varying value on elements of our cultural heritage. Therefore, it is in the hands of our Community Elders, Leaders, Politicians, Educators and Parents to preserve our culture. 

The WRF Culture & Heritage Institute aims to develop and raise awareness of Roma Heritage, History and Culture through the practice of cultural diplomacy and related fields (such as global governance, international law, human rights, sustainable economies, and performing arts) as well as to explore new strategies for the strengthening of intercultural relations and promoting global peace. WRF aims to promote and advance the Roma identity, and through the building of a public platform for dialogue on cultural heritage, raise awareness about Roma culture.


"Cultural Diplomacy may best be described as a course of actions, which are based on and utilize the exchange of ideas, values, traditions and other aspects of culture or identity, whether to strengthen relationships, enhance socio-cultural cooperation, promote national interests and beyond; Cultural diplomacy can be practiced by either the public sector, private sector or civil society."


Cultural diplomacy in practice (or applied cultural diplomacy) is the application and implementation of the theory of cultural diplomacy, including all models that have been practiced throughout history by individual, community, state or institutional actors. These models include for example diverse cultural exchange programs, international delegations (e.g., American jazz ambassadors) or sports competitions. The examples are uniquely able to affect intercultural and interfaith understanding and promote reconciliation.


The principles are:


  • Respect & Recognition of Cultural Diversity & Heritage

  • Global Intercultural Dialogue

  • Justice, Equality & Interdependence

  • The Protection of International Human Rights

  • Global Peace & Stability

About The Roma

The Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority.  Historians think the Roma’s ancestors first arrived in Europe from northern India, through what is now Iran, Armenia and Turkey. And that they gradually spread their way across the whole of Europe from the 9th century onwards. Many EU Roma are still victims of prejudice and social exclusion, despite the discrimination ban across EU Member States. 

Roma were forced into slavery up until the 19th century in Romania and elsewhere. Roma were executed during the medieval era in England, Switzerland and Denmark. Many countries, including Germany, Poland and Italy, ordered the expulsion of all Roma. In the 1930s, the Nazis in Germany saw Roma as “racially inferior” and murdered hundreds of thousands of them during World War II. After the war, Roma continued to be discriminated against and oppressed, especially in the Soviet Union. Between the 1970s and 1990s, the Czech Republic and Slovakia sterilized around 90,000 Romani women against their will.

Romani slaves were first shipped to the Americas with Columbus in 1498. Spain sent Romani slaves to their Louisiana colony between 1762 and 1800. The Romanichal, the first Romani group to arrive in North America in large numbers, moved to America from Britain around 1850. Eastern European Romani, the ancestors of most of the Romani population in the United States today, began immigrating to the United States on a large scale over the latter half of the 19th century coinciding with the weakening grip of the Ottoman Empire and the Ottoman Wars in Europe in the 19th century, which ultimately culminated in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), freeing many ethnic Eastern Europeans from Ottoman dominance and producing new waves of Romani immigrants.

That wave of Romani immigration comprised Romani-speaking peoples like the KalderashMachvayaLovari and Churari, and ethnically Romani groups that had integrated more within the Central and Eastern European societies, such as the Boyash (Ludari) of Romania and the Bashalde of Slovakia. Romani immigration, like all Central and Eastern European migration, was severely limited during the Soviet era in Central and Eastern Europe but picked up again in the 1990s after the fall of the Eastern Bloc

Stay tuned for upcoming programs and information!

Our Founders

bottom of page