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Albuquerque Organization Embraces City's Hispanic Roots, Strengthens Community Ties

By Kelly Gallagher

There's always a celebration happening in Albuquerque. Just head over to the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC), down by the banks of the Rio Grande, to join the fiesta. The occasion? The center's ongoing mission to preserve, promote, and advance Hispanic culture in Albuquerque and around the globe.

With nearly fifty percent of the city's population reporting Hispanic heritage and approximately three-quarters claiming some Spanish-English bilingualism, Albuquerque is the perfect location for a national organization dedicated to honoring Hispanic culture. Thanks to the NHCC, Albuquerque's citizens enjoy access to a variety of social events. While some cities struggle to hold one municipal event per week, NHCC hosts enough programming to fill every day of the calendar year- almost twice over!

"The NHCC puts on 700 events a year. These include music, dance, theater, visual arts, history, literary arts, film and community events, exhibitions, and institutes," says Rebecca Avitia, executive director of NHCC. "Whether a person is looking to be filled with happiness, searching for a community network and connection, or in need of reflection, the NHCC has the program."

While Avitia plays a vital part in bringing events to Albuquerque during her workday, she and her family also enjoy NHCC's programs during their downtime. "One of my family's favorites is our Salud y Sabor event, every third Thursday," says Avitia. "This event features the cuisine, music, and art of a Latino country, all while offering free produce from the Agricultura collective of South Valley farmers. It's a blast, and it gives us an opportunity to be together as a family, while also having the chance to meet a new family in the community- an added bonus!

Avitia also describes an affection for the NHCC's annual global music festival, Globalquerque. "Thousands of people come together to celebrate the beauty and diversity of music across the world, and all here in Albuquerque. It's a magical experience," she says. Other annual NHCC celebrations include el Dia de los Muertos, Cinco de Mayo, and the Feast Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Special events aren't all NHCC has to offer- there is also a growing collection of permanent artwork and historical exhibits, as well as a research library and archives.

At NHCC, celebration isn't just about having a good time. It's also about putting in the time and effort to develop a deeper understanding of Hispanic culture throughout history and continuing these precious traditions into the future. This helps to build community among the citizens of Albuquerque as they develop a stronger connection to their city's roots. So when you are looking for entertainment in Albuquerque and find yourself asking, "¿Que esta pasando hoy?" remember that there is something for everyone down at the NHCC.

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About The Author

Kelly Gallagher studied creative writing at SUNY Oswego and Vermont College of Fine...

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