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Semana de la Raza honors PCC’s rich Latino culture

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Portland Community College’s fifth annual Semana de la Raza opens April 23 with a new organizer and a new theme, “From Dreams to Actions,” or “De Suenos a Acciones.”

Left to right, student organizers Liliana Luna, Victor Mena and Sandra Soto with Interim Rock Creek Multicultural Center Coordinator Lida Rafia.

Semana de la Raza will take place on the Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W. Springville Road) from April 23-29. The weeklong festival will include educational and cultural events such as plays, ballet, poetry slams and films that honor Latino people, history and culture. Semana is free and open to the public.

“My hope this year is to empower more Latino and Latina students through education, celebration and honoring of their culture,” said Lida Rafia, Rock Creek Campus interim Multicultural Center coordinator and planner of the event. “It will be exciting.”

On Wednesday, April 27, highlights include a session of mural painting (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at the direction of Art Department Chair Mark Andres in the Building 3 Mall; a poetry slam from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Building 3 Mall; and a dance performance by Ballet Lo Nuestro at 7:30 p.m., Building 3 Forum.

On Thursday, April 28, Semana de la Raza will host a morning for high school students that will feature an international fair from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Building 3 Mall and a College Fair from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Building 9 Event Center. Those will be followed by a screening of “The 800 Mile Wall,” a documentary by director John Carlos Frey at 4 p.m., Building 3 Forum.

Festivities will culminate at 4 p.m., Friday, April 29 with the Cesar Chavez Evening of Excellence, which will feature music by the Miguel Bernal Trio and performance of Teatro Milagro’s play “Duende de Lorca.” The play centers on an acclaimed, but poor, nomadic artist struggling to find inspiration and identity. The night also will feature an award ceremony honoring students, faculty and community organizations for their distinguished service.

While several 2011 Semana events are traditional, others reflect the vision of Rafia. As well as being new to Rock Creek, Rafia is new to Latino culture, but familiar with the importance of highlighting and honoring diversity. An immigrant from Iran, she moved to the U.S. at 3 years old and went back to Tehran at age 8. In 1992, her family survived a bombing before immigrating to the U.S.

“(When I took this job last fall) I knew that Semana was a huge event, drawing over 5,000 people to the campus during the week,” she said. “I can definitely relate and empathize with the difficulties and the barriers they (Latinos) face.”

For more information on events at Semana de la Raza visit:

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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