Charmaine Mamantov, 78, came to Cincinnati from Knoxville, Tenn., so she could be with family.
What she didn’t know was that she would find a second family at the Krohn Conservatory
, where she’s volunteered for the past five years.
“I’ve worked all my life as a retired college professor, and I can’t just sit,” Mamantov says. “So I looked at several places, and when I went to Krohn, they were very welcoming to volunteers. They made me feel like I was going to be an important part of a team.”
As a key member of Krohn’s team of volunteers, Mamantov has served in a variety of capacities—as a door guard, a horticulture helper, a tour guide and a butterfly show board member—to name a few.
This year’s international show, Butterflies of Morocco
, is about more than beautiful butterflies, though, Mamantov says. It’s a cultural experience.
“When you walk in, the first thing you see is a tent with camels, and you go through an entranceway that has all sorts of interesting artifacts,” Mamantov says. “And you really need to take time to look at it really slowly. And not just the butterflies, because when you come out of the show, you’ve had the experience of being in that other culture.”
It’s the ambiance, Mamantov says, that “really attacks the senses.” Flowers continually change; 16,000 butterflies flutter about; water flows; and Moroccan beats and rhythms play in the background.
“Everything just surrounds you—what you hear, what you feel, what you look at,” Mamantov says. “And that’s not an accident. The people that design this do it that way so that when you walk into the showroom, you really feel like you’ve entered another world.”
While the sights and sounds engulf the senses, it’s the message, Mamantov says, that’s the ultimate takeaway.
“It’s particularly important in the current world climate that we come away from the show each year with an understanding that there are many, many other cultures out there in the world,” Mamantov says. “And the butterflies put a peaceful thing over all of it.”
• Get a coupon
and visit Butterflies of Morocco.
at the Krohn Conservatory.
By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.