MORE THAN 13,000 people of Hispanic heritage reside in Howard County. Many have left homelands that celebrate the tradition of Tertulia, the practice of gathering in conversation at a central place - usually Sunday afternoons - over coffee or refreshments.
In August, the Columbia Association formed the Columbia Tertulia to sponsor Hispanic heritage programs, to share regional talents and resources in the Hispanic community and to address needs of our county's growing Hispanic population.
It's intended as a social, cultural and educational group, says co-founder Murray Simon, a Long Reach resident who approached the association about the idea.
A retired rabbinicalpastor,Simon has a master's degree in Spanish literature and worked 14 years in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s as a consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) upgrading Latin American school systems.
"I've had a lifelong relationship with the Hispanic community," says Simon, who in 1948 received a letter from former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt in support of a program he founded teaching English as a second language to Spanish-speaking residents in New York City. He was 23 at the time. Simon approached Louise Bowser, coordinator of the association's Sister Cities Program (a foreign exchange program for high school students), with the concept of forming the Columbia group last fall. His daughter Sarah, a sophomore at Oakland Mills High School, had participated in a trip to Tres Cantosin Spain with the Sister Cities Program.
A nonprofit organization, the Columbia Tertulia sponsors free events every three months with administrative and financial assistance from the association.
In March, the group held a performance at The Other Barn in Oakland Mills Village Center with Mexican, Colombian and Spanish music by guitarists Hector DM-mazof Oakland Mills and Soriano Campuzanoof Baltimore, and RaM-zl Castro of Ellicott City on the keyboards.
DM-maz and RenM-i Maldonado, a Kings Contrivance resident, read poems by Pablo Nerudaand JosM-i de Esproncedain Spanish. The dance troupe ArteFlamenco of North Laurel performed.
During the event, presenters discussed Pan American Week, a tribute to the deeds and people of 20 Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries the week of April 9.
In a proclamation for the week, County Executive James N. Robey wrote: "It is fitting for the Howard County Government to acknowledge the cultural, economic and social contributions to our county by residents of Hispanic heritage, and to commend all contributions towards harmonious relationships among North American and Latin American nations."
The Columbia Tertulia is run by a committee of 10 to 15 people, co-chaired by Simon, Bowser and Lupita Mora, a Long Reach resident. Juana Simon, Murray Simon's wife and originally from Bolivia, serves on the panel.
The organization is sponsoring a Hispanic arts event with poetry, dance and music from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Father's Day, June 18, at The Other Barn.
Information: Louise Bowser, 410-715-3162.
At the car wash
Cub Scout Pack 373 held a car wash at the Kings Contrivance Exxon on April 29 to raise funds for badges and activities, including a camping trip and a wildlife program presented by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Chuck Powersis the Packs Cub master. MargOehrli, a den leader and a Kings Contrivance resident, organized the car wash.
Members of Pack 373 attend Guilford Elementary School and the Young School, a private school on Riverwood Road.
The support of brothers Ben and Bob McLeod,owners of the gas station, and Wayne Bright, who runs the station garage, made the car wash fund-raiser possible.