10th annual Fiesta Latina proudly celebrates Latino cultures

SPA and Unidos club joined together to honor Latino cultures and raise awareness for Hispanic Heritage Month.

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10th annual Fiesta Latina proudly celebrates Latino cultures

Biola students enjoy a variety of Latino food during the 2019 Fiesta Latina.

Biola students enjoy a variety of Latino food during the 2019 Fiesta Latina.

Bree Mays // THE CHIMES

Biola students enjoy a variety of Latino food during the 2019 Fiesta Latina.

Bree Mays // THE CHIMES

Bree Mays // THE CHIMES

Biola students enjoy a variety of Latino food during the 2019 Fiesta Latina.

Jodie Stock, Freelance Writer

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Rhythmic music, colorful balloons and a string of flags decorated this year’s Fiesta Latina celebration at the Fireplace Pavilion on Friday. The 10th annual event from Student Programming and Activities and the Unidos club, Fiesta Latina was lively, filled with Latino food, music and dance. The festival took place during Hispanic Heritage month, which started on Sept. 15 and lasts until Oct. 15.

HONORING LATINO CULTURE  

From 10-2 p.m., upbeat Latino music played in the background as people socialized or lined up to taste Cuban congrí, El Salvadorian pupusas, Brazilian picanha and Argentinian empanadas.

As second year Talbot student Youngsung Nam was on his way to the library, he said he noticed a large group of people gathering near the SUB. It piqued his interest. As a student from South Korea, Nam said he appreciates events like these because it exposes him to a variety of cultures, distinctly those different from his own. He said South Korea is mostly mono-cultural, so events like Fiesta Latina are eye-opening and help broaden his perspective.  

There was a salsa dance performance by The Granada LA, a Los Angeles-based dance studio, followed by a free salsa lesson. Students filled the area in front of the stage as they enthusiastically participated in the lesson. Professor of modern languages Artemiza Hernandez and director of The Center for the Study of the Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit Today Oscar Merlo spoke at the event. Hernandez shared her desire to spread the message of diversity in relation to a relationship with God. Merlo discussed the importance of remembering one’s heritage and ancestry.

“This is probably the best it’s ever been,” said junior sociology major Marisa Vasquez, who is both the vice president of Unidos club and SPA event coordinator. “Fiesta Latina has been around for 10 years now, but we’ve never had a stage before. We’ve never had these salsa performances. We’ve never had these restaurants before. And we’ve never had so many students.”

RAISING AWARENESS AND MAKING A LASTING IMPACT

 President of Unidos club and junior business management major Jayleann Guadalupe shared that she wanted Fiesta Latina to be educational as well as fun. There were colorful flyers on each table that gave different facts about various Latino countries. Some Latino students’ poems were also displayed, in order to show the diversity of Latino cultures and people’s unique experiences. 

 There was also a photo booth and a blackboard where students could write a fact they learned about different Latino countries.

Alumnus Daniel Onoe came to Fiesta Latina with a friend, not realizing how many Latino countries would be represented, including his home country, Brazil. 

“It was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “Normally, Brazil is left on the outskirts of Latin America because we’re not Spanish speaking, so we’re not in the discussion sometimes.”

SPA and Unidos club deliberately chose to include all Latino countries, showcasing countries that are generally less well-known. 

“We want to invite everyone to unite because that’s what unidos means,” Vasquez said.

 Although Guadalupe appreciated the fun and celebratory aspect of Fiesta Latina, she also expressed her desire for Fiesta Latina to make a lasting impact on non-Latino students.

“Having more of a curiosity instead of making those assumptions is something I want everyone to take away,” she said. “It’s important to not just assume but to ask and to be intentional about asking about their experiences and where they come from, rather than just making those assumptions that could potentially hurt people.”