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Santa Fe residents reach out to bring global cultures to New Mexico

Not all who came with Francisco Vasques de Coronado's 1540 expedition into New Mexico were Spanish. Included among the 287 explorers were five Portuguese, two Italians, a Frenchman, a Scot and a German. Diverse cultures have been a small but significant part of New Mexico's heritage since the first Europeans. Santa Fe's multicultural connections are so dynamic that many consider it an international city. Among its many immigrants are a significant number ofTibetans who settled here when the city was chosen as one of the cluster sites for the U.S.Tibetan Resettlement Program. Santa Fe Jin promotes an understanding of the Japanese culture through events like its spring Matsuri (Japanese Festival). And just north in Espanola is a Sikh community founded byYogi Bajhan. Many world musicians reside here, including Prince Diabate, aWest African kora player, Akeem Ayanniyi, a ninth generation master drummer from Nigeria and violinist and composer Farzad. The things that make the "City Different" different and enchant "The Land of Enchantment" appeal to many immigrants as well as Americans with significant international connections. Guy Brunet, owner of Provence in Santa Fe and recent immigrant from France, said, "It's special.There are very few cities that are going to be magical for Europeans.There is a lot of history, a lot of art and a cross of every great culture." Tatiana Struchkova, originally from St. Petersburg, Russia and owner of Andreeva Gallery, feels at home with the landscape, the traditional architecture, the world-class performing and visual arts, and most of all, the people. Struchkova said, "The sky is sophisticated, dramatic, powerful - and I would say the people I have met are the same, with sophisticated, dramatic, powerful biographies." Many immigrants like Struchkova, who represents portrait artists with international reputations, expand the city's global ties. Santa Fe businesses play a large role in creating the international flavor. Numerous restaurants serve international cuisine and galleries represent contemporary international artists. Several galleries specialize in world folk art that ranges from the Folk Arts of Poland to Tad-Tribal Art to several galleries carrying Japanese art. Martha Egan, owner of Pachamama, which specializes in Latin American folk art, believes this appreciation for folk art stems from New Mexico's strong hand-made traditions. She notes how remarkable Santa Fe is for its size. "At market last year, one of the artists was astonished. She had expected a big city with skyscrapers and was surprised at how small and rural Santa Fe was. For a small city, the role that folk art plays in our community is huge. I would venture to guess in terms of businesses that specialize in international art we have at least as much or more than larger cities. Santa Fe truly is an international center for the arts." Santa Fe's outreach to the greater world takes many forms. In addition to the usual study abroad options, the College of Santa Fe offers a Documentary Studies Program that encourages cross-cultural and international fieldwork and partners with InsitutoTerra, a Private Natural Heritage Reserve in Brazil.The Entrepreneurship Institute at the Santa Fe Community College includes training in global entrepreneurship. The Santa Fe Council on International Relations promotes citizen diplomacy and the idea that individuals have the right, even the responsibility to help shape U.S. foreign relations "one handshake at a time."The council is Santa Fe's official host for the U.S. Department of State's InternationalVisitor Leadership Program. The council facilitates visits by groups of politicians, journalists, lawyers, artists and other world leaders.Volunteers arrange official visits and cultural activities related to the group's focus and host "home hospitality dinners," giving visitors the chance to visit with local people.The dinners are often the highlight of the trip.The council also sponsors educational outreach programs like the International Lecture Series, which offers discussions with nationally known experts on significant global issues. Board President Sarah Spencer said, "Santa Fe relates to the larger world beautifully.The types of people being invited over here are very sophisticated.They have heard of Santa Fe and are excited to come here. And the unstinting support of the local community makes the program a success." Spencer, who is Chairman of Admissions for the International Folk Art Market, is one of several council members who also volunteer at market. Many of the market's 700 volunteers have international connections. Regional Coordinator Chairman Melanie Owen said, "Santa Fe is a very international town. We have people who've worked all over the world in international business, Foreign Service, education and as clergy.There are also people who love to travel. Many people volunteer as a way for them to maintain connections with the wider world." Owen suspects that Santa Fe's multicultural nature appeals to many who've lived abroad. As many as 50 of the market volunteers, including Owen, are Return Peace Corp Volunteers. Some help on the weekend of the event or greet artists at the airport, others accept challenging positions like that of regional coordinator. Coordinators travel to their regions to look for artists, nurture them through the application process, help them with visas, shipping and customs, and look out for their needs during their time in Santa Fe. Charlene Cerny, executive director of the market said, "The key volunteers are driven to donate their time to this market because they know that they are changing lives around the world." It could also be said that Santa Fe changes lives around the world: the lives of those who visit, the lives of those who move here and the lives its citizens touch in distant lands.


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Title Annotation:Special Sections
Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Jul 11, 2007

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