Festival de Comunidades Extranjeras / Festival of Foreign Communities

The fifth Festival de Comunidades Extranjeras  or Festival of Foreign Communities took place on March 2-4, 2012, at the Parque Bicentenario in Santa Rosa Jáuregui (located in the suburbs of Querétaro).  The Festival is an annual event that showcases the culture, gastronomy, and tourism of the many nations represented by the foreign residents of the Querétaro area.  Fifty countries participated this year at the Festival, which attracted more than 67,000 visitors over three days.  The United States’ booth was co-sponsored by the Peace Corps and El Puente de Esperanza, a non-profit organization in Querétaro with long-standing ties to the U.S. and to the Peace Corps.  Charlie worked with El Puente staff to organize the booth and to coordinate the participation of other Peace Corps and local volunteers.

The U.S. booth featured genuine American cuisine — hamburgers, apple pie, homemade ice cream, and Sam Adams beer — which proved to be a popular offering.  The booth was decorated in an eclectic style that included Disney themes and sites of touristic interest, such as Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, and, of course, Disneyland.  Adults were enticed by the opportunity to assemble a jigsaw puzzle map of the United States, and children were excited by the chance to color pages of Disney cartoon characters.

El Puente staff and its young beneficiaries provided the food service at the Festival and decorated the booth.  They had worked diligently over the week prior to the Festival to get the grills and other equipment ready and their efforts were rewarded by the lines of appreciative guests.  Special thanks go to the El Puente volunteer who helped organize the event and made the delicious ice cream, and her son, who held the U.S. flag on the platform of the national participants.  Several Peace Corps volunteers, including Julie, were present in the booth to greet visitors.  The Festival presented an excellent opportunity for these volunteers to discuss in both Spanish and English their work in Mexico, to distribute literature about the projects supported by Peace Corps in the country, and to promote volunteerism locally.

While the U.S. booth did not win the prize for best cuisine (that honor went to Germany) or the most hospitable (Brazil easily got that title), the Festival was a great opportunity for everyone to meet Mexican visitors and get to know the diverse foreign residents of the Querétaro area.

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