QMA’s Passport Fridays make the local global

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Travelling the world can be a hassle, not to mention expensive, but the Queens Museum of Art is trying its best to make is easier for people to see the world without leaving the borough.

QMA, along with corporate sponsor Target, is presenting the sixth annual Passport Fridays, an international outdoor series that will take place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The goal of the series is to give people a taste of other countries and bring together different generations.

“We try to engage them into knowing other cultures,” said Gabriel Roldos, who works at the QMA, assisting in programming and outreach. “It’s about connecting people in Queens to other countries that are sharing the city.”

Beginning July 9, the series features a different country — or countries — every week. This year it starts with South Africa, in honor of the World Cup, which is currently being held there. The other countries in the series will be Colombia, Ecuador, South Korea, Taiwan, Middle East, Brazil, India and Mexico. These countries were chosen because of their presence in the areas close to the museum.

Each country will showcase its culture with music, dance, and films. Roldos said that they try to choose performers who are local and have worked with the museum previously. The films are family friendly and, in cases of documentaries, relevant to current events.

One ethnic group in New York sees the upcoming performances as a great opportunity to display its unique culture. AfroColombia New York is an organization dedicated to sharing their heritage and history. The group took part in organizing the Colombia/Ecuador night of the series, which will be July 16, in order to demonstrate that there is a strong AfroColombian community in New York.

“We want to basically showcase Afro-Colombian culture and give out artists more exposure,” said Naila Rosario, codirector of AfroColombia New York. “[QMA] has been doing great work with the program. We are grateful for that.”

One of the performers for that night is Colombia native and marimba player Diego Obregon. Obregon said, in Spanish, that he will be accompanied by the rest of his musical group, Chonta, which he formed in New York about five years ago.

“I would like to create a fusion of traditional [Colombian] music and European styles,” said Obregon, who lives in Woodhaven. “It’s given me a chance to demonstrate the music of my region to the world.”

Obregon is only performing on that night, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to be present at the other events.

“I think it’s important to see the other shows because I think it’s important to know other cultures,” he said.

Aside from the performances, there will be workshops and other activities to get people involved. All the events are free.

For a complete listing visit

If You Go

Passport Fridays

When: July 9-Aug. 27, 6:30 - 10 p.m.

Where: Queens Museum of Art, Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Cost: Free

Contact: 718-592-9700

For More:

Updated 6:14 pm, October 10, 2011
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