Andrade helps showcase Garden City's diversity




Juan Andrade, owner of El Remedio Market for the past 30 years, could be described as everyone's neighbor.

"Thirty years is a whole life, so people go here," Andrade said Sunday as he prepared for the market's annual Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Andrade's wife, Alicia Andrade, son, Danny Andrade, and daughter, Diana Andrade, work at the store along with 15 other employees.

"Those kids (who work here) are 100 percent bilingual because we never give them the chance to say no. We tell them, 'See if you can go find it, go do it, like the music, so they have to learn Spanish. It's not a question to, 'See if you can. You've got to do it,'" Andrade tells his employees.

He said that in some cases, it is Spanish-speaking employees who are required to learn how to speak English. Andrade also has taught their UPS delivery person how to speak Spanish.

"What we do with him, because he comes every day, I said 'Do you want to learn Spanish,' and he said, 'Yeah, I'd like to learn Spanish.' So I say, 'What we're going to do every day when you show up here, I'm going to teach you one word and the next day I'm going to give you a new one, and you're going to tell me the one from the day before. And in about a month, or a couple of months, you want to make a small conversation," Andrade said. "Like 'buenos dias' — small little sentences — and then they learn and they don't even notice that they have learned."

Andrade immigrated to the United States when he was 19. He serves on local multicultural board, which consists of community leaders from all of the cultures in Garden City and recently, this diversity and Andrade's deep ties to the community resulted in quite a surprise: The History Channel recorded a segment for a show they are producing at El Remedio Market.

"They picked Garden City because cultural diversity in Garden is so big, you know. So from Garden City, they pick a place. and they picked the store because we have so many things going. We do a lot of crazy things," he said, laughing. "And Jeff, the UPS guy, is part of that, too, because he's learning Spanish with us. Jeff says, 'Hi Juan. Buenos dias,' and he speaks Spanish (in the video)."

Andrade said he was shocked to the point of disbelief when he first received a call from the producers of the show, the specifics of which he didn't know much about, except that it's supposed to air within the year.

"He called and said, 'I'm from this station.' I didn't believe him the first time, and they said they noticed I don't believe what they say. I never expect them to, but they show up ... When they come in the morning and are waiting for me with the camera, and I'm like, 'Oh my God.' It is something I never expected."

He said that what will be a 10-minute segment took about three days to record.

During Sunday's Cinco de Mayo celebration, Andrade and his family were putting the finishing touches on decorations, as local performers set up their equipment on the stage in the parking lot. The family has been hosting the festivities for the past 20 years, after a friend of Andrade's approached him about doing it.

"I said, 'Let's try it,' so we put a band in the back and we did it without too much action, and then the next year, we did it again, and again another year it got bigger and bigger and bigger," Andrade said. "If the weather is nice, like today, there will be about 2,000 or 3,000 people here."

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