Up, Up and Away ... to a Balloon Museum in Albuquerque



HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We hear some music from Bow Wow…

Answer a question about Spanish speakers in the United States…

And report about a new museum in the American Southwest.

Balloon Museum

Every October for more than thirty years, the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico welcomes visitors to a colorful celebration. The visitors spend much of their time looking up at the sky. That is because they are attending the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. More than seven hundred colorful hot air balloons fill the sky. This year, there is also a new ballooning museum. Pat Bodner has more.

PAT BODNER: The Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum opened October first. It celebrates the art and science of ballooning. The name honors two men from Albuquerque who were important in the history of balloon flight. They are Ben Abruzzo and Maxie Anderson. Along with Larry Newman, they completed the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by gas balloon in nineteen seventy-eight.

The new museum building looks like a balloon lying on its side ready to launch. Outside is a real balloon ready to take visitors for a ride.

The museum has a library about ballooning and air flight, films and pictures of ballooning throughout history and educational classrooms.

The museum aims to answer questions many people ask about balloons and those who fly them: How are balloons built? How do they get up into the air? Why do people fly them at all? The museum also shows how balloons have been used for fun, for war and for scientific purposes.

Visitors can see objects important in the history of ballooning. One is a handwritten letter by Frenchman LeSuer Phillipe. He watched what is believed to be the first balloon flight in the world in seventeen eighty-three. Visitors also can see the first two balloons flown in Albuquerque in eighteen eighty-two and nineteen oh-seven.

One exciting part of the museum is called the New Mexico Adventure. It is a virtual reality balloon ride through the state of New Mexico. The experience shows the beautiful areas of the state that visitors can only see from the air.

Officials say they hope foreign visitors as well as Americans will visit the museum. That is because it also includes objects about ballooning in other countries. These include parts of a bomb-dropping device used by Germany during World War Two. And the clothing worn by a Japanese balloonist in nineteen ninety-four.

HOST: Our question this week comes from China. A student at Nankai University wants to know why Spanish is the most popular foreign language spoken in the United States.

Spanish has been spoken in the United States since eighteen-oh-three. That is the year the United States bought a huge area of land called the Louisiana Purchase. Spanish settlers in the area became part of the new nation.

Today, Spanish is the second most common language used in the United States, after English. Experts say the reason is because many Spanish-speaking people have moved to the United States to live.

Americans describe people of Spanish ancestry as Hispanic. Latino is another word used to describe people with roots in Spanish-speaking countries.

In two thousand three, the government officially estimated Hispanics to be the largest minority group in the United States. The number of Hispanics in the United States increased by almost six million since the last official government count in two thousand. The government now says the Hispanic population reached more than forty-one million people as of July of two thousand four. That is fourteen percent of the population.

One important issue is how to improve education for the children of Latino immigrants. A national debate continues about how best to teach English and other subjects to Spanish-speaking children. Studies show that Hispanics in the United States complete high school and college at lower rates than other ethnic groups.

The popularity of Spanish is having a lasting influence on English speakers in the United States. Many non-Hispanic children and adults are learning and speaking Spanish. It is one of the most popular foreign languages that students study in school. It is being used increasingly in business, and in both national and international politics.

And business leaders are recognizing the growing importance of selling to what is now America's largest minority group. The number of Spanish-language programs are increasing on radio and television. And, Latinos are gaining influence in cultural and political life in the United States.

Bow Wow

Shad Moss began performing rap music when he was six years old. Shad appeared with popular rapper Snoop Dogg on a television show. The public liked Shad immediately. Snoop began calling him "Lil' Bow Wow." Bob Doughty has more.

BOB DOUGHTY: At age thirteen, Lil' Bow Wow became the world's youngest rapper to have a number one hit song. That earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. The song was "Bounce With Me." It is from his first album "Beware of Dog." The album was released in two thousand.


Lil' Bow Wow has gained much success as a rapper. He also has performed as an actor in movies. He was in "Like Mike" and "The Johnson Family Vacation". His most recent movie, "Roll Bounce," was released last month.

In two thousand two, Lil' Bow Wow dropped the "little" from his name. He became known as "Bow Wow." He was fifteen years old. He wanted to be recognized as a young adult instead of a child performer. He had just recorded his third album, "Unleashed." In this song, he tells about the things he wants to do when he becomes eighteen. It is called "Eighteen".


Now Bow Wow is eighteen. This year he released his fourth album, "Wanted." We leave you with a song from that album. Bow Wow performs "Like You" with hip-hop singer Ciara (see-AIR-a).


HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.

This show was written by Lawan Davis and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was the producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.