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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: October 14, 2002
Volume 38, Number 7


Larrañaga teaches culture to youth

By Matthew Bollinger

uan Fidel LarrañagaJuan Fidel Larrañaga is doing all he can to reach out to New Mexico youth promoting heritage, culture and community.

At UNM, Larrañaga provides computer support for UNM’s Ibero American Science and Technology Education Consortium,
a non-profit organization established to foster scientific, engineering and technological education throughout the Americas and Iberian Peninsula.

Larrañaga advocates for education beyond the classroom, especially as it relates to language and culture. “Promoting culture is important to me because I see loss of Indo-Hispano culture due to assimilation,” he says.

He has volunteered with organizations such as Mijas Spanish Camp, Big Brother/Sister and AGIF Youth for Youth tutoring program.

“I do not see enough programs to entice youth to participate in learning culture,” he says. “Some day I pray there will be a summer program where youth can learn from their elders the culture of Indo-Hispano New Mexico. I want them to learn the language and how to cook traditional food. I want them to learn the importance of the land and to spend time with and appreciate the elders of New Mexico. I do not want traditional New Mexico to die with my grandparents’ generation.”

Larrañaga attended Albuquerque High School graduating third in his class in 1991 while an active member of MESA. He received a BA in mathematics from Occidental College, Los Angeles, in 1995. While a college sophomore, he attended a Spanish language immersion program in Mexico. “I encourage all students to make an effort to go on an abroad program,” he says.

On select holidays, he visits family from his mother's side in Encino, N.M., where his grandparents are buried.

“My interest in learning the Spanish language came from my grandfather, Juan Abel Larrañaga. He knew limited English. I wished to communicate with him the best I could and learn from him before he passed away.”

Larrañaga is proud to be starting a family of his own. He is married with a one-year-old son.