FARMINGTON — San Juan College celebrated its 16th Creating Cultural Harmony Conference on Friday.

The conference lasted one day and provided presentations, workshops and entertainment celebrating the diversity of cultures. This year's theme was "Footsteps that Strengthen Hope and Resiliency."

The conference began at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast and exhibits in the lobby of the Henderson Fine Arts Center.

Pamela Drake, the conference director, said the first event was organized in 1992 and, for a while, it was held every year. In more recent years, it became an every-other-year event.

Drake said the conference allows celebration of the positive aspects of the many cultures in the Four Corners and throughout New Mexico.

"We often hear about the friction in this area," Drake said.

Drake said when the conference first started in 1992 it was more of an educational opportunity. White people would attend and learn about the Native American culture.

"I believe that we really do appreciate each other's cultures more than we did then," Drake said.

The conference was divided into a youth track for teenagers and an adult track.

This year, Hakim Bellamy, the inaugural Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, spoke to the teens about using poetry to tell stories.

Bellamy said some people pretend to be Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi in public but, when they're around friends they tell racist jokes. He also stressed the importance of "privileged" people — people who have been able to obtain an education — giving voice to those who aren't "privileged."

He said a persona poem is one way to give a voice to the voiceless. A persona poem challenges authors to write from another person's perspective.

Marc Scott, a criminal investigator for Navajo Nation, also spoke to the teens. He talked about how couples maintain a committed relationship.

Scott highlighted three points to remaining in a strong relationship -- be prepared for anything that can happen, make it safe to connect and do your part to enhance the relationship.

Scott also said expectations need to be adjusted.

"Love isn't finding a perfect person," Scott said.

Instead, he said love is finding perfection in an imperfect person.

Scott stressed the importance of forgiveness to the teens. He said a lot of people think that forgiveness means forgetting and that it should be like it hadn't happened.

"When you forgive someone you are able to remember what happened and it doesn't hurt anymore," Scott said.

Diana Rico, a journalist, author and documentary producer spoke to the adults about how to practice acts of kindness -- random or otherwise.

Michael Brown from the Sankofa Community Wellness and Prevention Institute in Albuquerque gave the keynote address, "Hope in a State of Emergency." The talk focused on how society is set up to care for youth.

Some of the featured entertainment included "Patchwork Barbershop Quartet" singing love songs and music from the 50s and 70s, "A Celtic Gathering" featuring Jim Lynch on bagpipes and Maria Blair dancing Scottish Highland style, and "Gypsyfire" presenting contemporary folk and Celtic music.

In addition to workshops, presentations and entertainment, the conference provided health screenings.