CULTURE – Abraham Lincoln Center Building Bridges of Friendship

CUENCA, ISSUE #16
PAGE # 10

Writed by Madelaine Barry - Photographs by Keith Paul

What building is the face of the United States in Cuenca? Where can you read Time, Wired, National Geographic, Architectural Digest and People in English? Who takes gently used adult and children’s book donations? If you know the answer is the Abraham Lincoln Center, then you know what about 5,000 people who use their services every month knows.

The center was built to be a cultural meeting point between Ecuadorians and Americans in 1957. It offers Spanish and English lessons and does translations for nominal fees. Get a free library card to check out adult, young adult and children’s books. Tap into eLibraryUSA, which accesses more than twenty databases of scientific books, magazines, and journals. Come to use their free Wi-Fi and computers. Ask the English-speaking attendant how to get into databases of the Department of State. It’s a perfect place for reading and research!

The Abraham Lincoln Center is a non-profit organization that receives special project grants from the United States. Current director Alicia Boroto Carrasco took over from her father, who was the director for 41 years.

Back then Cuencanos had expressed a need for a place where they could learn English. The Lutheran Church stepped up to fill that gap, but the Catholic opposed it. A search began for a secular place, and after U.S. funding was secured, the Abraham Lincoln Cultural Center, now the Centro Ecuatoriano Norteamericano “Abraham Lincoln,” was born.

Alicia proudly speaks of the improvements made through the years and the rising patronage. With a grant from the United States, that the Ambassador had talked about at his most recent visit, the center is in the process of building a 130-seat auditorium, planned to be finished sometime in January. It is state of the art with full audio/visual technology and will be able to host first-class cultural events. That’s good news, as our city could surely use a venue that size. Every year, the U.S. government sponsors scholarships for low-income high school students who show leadership qualities. The center teaches them computer literacy, American culture, and English, giving deserving Cuencanos a leg up to achieve success in higher education opportunities abroad.

When I said at the beginning that the Center is the face of the U.S. in our city, I asked if there was any unusual activity leading up to, or after, the recent presidential election. Alicia said there was not, but a few minutes later we heard a commotion in the street. We went to the windows to check it out, but it was only a protest for a local issue. Phew! When the embassy in Guayaquil comes to offer passport and notarial services, the Center is where it takes place. It’s quite a gem in our city!

Located at Antonio Borrero 5-18 y Honorato Vasquez - Phone: 07 282 3898 - Open Monday through Friday from 8am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 6 pm.

Keith Paul

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