Several attend first Hispanic Festival in Albany - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Several attend first Hispanic Festival in Albany

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September 30, 2006

Albany -- National Hispanic month comes to an end with a celebration here in Albany. It was the very first Hispanic Education Festival at Tift Park.

Hundreds of people came to enjoy the food, live entertainment, and educational information.

Some Hispanic people in our community say moving to America is a challenge they feel blessed to face.

Juan Lopez has reasons to sing a song of joy after building a life for himself here in the US. He moved from Guatamala 14 years ago.

"When I moved here I couldn't speak no English before. Thanks for the people here, the programs in the United States," said Juan Lopez.

He's now bilingual and has a full-time job landscaping for With Pefection Landscaping.

For dancing queen Maribel Alvarado, being Mexican-born and raised in America wasn't a hard transition, but she does remember challenges while at school. They shaped her into who she is today.

"The side of my parents they're Hispanic, I love everything they do. But on the side my family, I have my husband and my little boy, we're like Americans and we do everything the American way," said Maribel Alvarado.

Albany civic leaders want others to welcome Hispanics into our community and share the growing importance of their role in the city.

"When we talk about economic development and growth here in Albany we have to embrace our diversity. Our Hispanic population has grown more than 300% in the last year and a half," said Chamber Literacy Program Director.

Growing that population are people like Juan Lopez, who came to America to escape unrest in his own country.

"We just come here for work and be in peace with everybody. We love each other, we have Jesus Christ in our hearts," said Lopez.

Lopez made a committment to learn American culture when he came. but he's still embraces his own and wants other understand it too. Nicole Johnson, WALB News Ten, Albany.

The Chamber of Commerce, APD, and Inglesias Viviendo En Fe church sponsored the event and say it will be an annual one.

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