The Garden City Telegram
9/14/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Fiesta time

Annual event helps showcase strength of local diversity.

The Community Mexican Fiesta has enjoyed a long and remarkable run in Garden City.

This year's 87th edition, "Leaving Footprints — Dejando Huellas," started Friday and promised to draw another crowd today with a parade, presentations and entertainment.

While it's become an anticipated, well attended celebration, some in our midst still would find cause to criticize the event because it's tied to the political history of another land.

The annual festival does indeed spotlight Mexico's independence from Spanish rule.

But it's so much more.

The event also is an opportunity to promote cultural awareness in a majority-minority community, where the racial composition is less than 50 percent white.

Another notable aspect would be in the Community Mexican Fiesta organization's work to provide financial assistance to students through an endowed scholarship fund.

Such endeavors have made a difference in a community with a strong record of pursuing cultural understanding between current residents and newcomers.

The efforts are all the more vital at a time a troubling political climate nationwide has generated wrong assumptions about foreigners who come here to live and work — attitudes that are counterproductive at a time this community in particular is in need of workers.

The United States has for generations drawn strength from the varied backgrounds of all its people. Sadly, some local residents choose not to acknowledge this community's history of luring immigrants to help meet labor needs.

Those who do embrace that reality know the importance of addressing the many challenges of a diverse population, from educational needs to other ways to help immigrants assimilate.

At the same time, attempts to understand different cultures must go both ways. Newcomers should learn and understand as much as they can about the cultures of people already here. English as a Second Language classes and other programs help those new to the area assimilate.

This community has long served as a model for others by encouraging immigrants to better understand their new home, and helping local residents learn to live in harmony with newcomers.

Consider the Community Mexican Fiesta a welcome and powerful part of that tradition.