For the past month, Temple has been immersed in Latino culture.
Nationally, Latino Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. However, Temple gets festive from Sept. 25 to Oct. 25, and presents the opportunity for all students to learn and experience Latino culture firsthand. Various Latino groups on campus collaborate to host different events during the month – commencing with one last hurrah on Friday, Oct. 26.
Already, different Latino organizations have hosted numerous events, most including dancing and food. One such event that helped kick off the month was “Baila Conmigo.”
“Baila Conmigo, [translated in English to mean] ‘dance with me,’ was a big workshop with performance dances to show everyone what dancing is in our culture as well as a chance for the audience to get involved,” said Grace Obando, junior public relations major.
There were a variety of dances presented, all extracted from different parts of the Caribbean. The event served as a place to let loose and dance, while simultaneously offering a lesson about each individual dance.
“It brought light to different dancing styles including Bachata, Salsa, Merengue, and Bomba y Plena,” said Andrew Porter, president of Lambda Theta Phi. “We had a little background history and instruction for each dance style and then afterwards we had a period where the DJ spun and everyone got to test out what they learned.”
The Latin dance team, Esencia Latina, also gave a performance and taught salsa.
“We had a great turn-out,” said Andrew Sanchez, president of Esencia Latina. “Afterwards, everyone danced the night away to Caribbean rhythms.”
During these events, everyone has a chance to pick up on something new.
“This has been my favorite event thus far because I had the opportunity to share my passion with others who were willing to learn,” said Sanchez, junior psychology major. “I learned a couple of things myself.”
Beginner dancers and seasoned veterans were welcome to give the different dance styles a try.
“A lot of people with different ranges of skills came to the event so we had Esencia Latina perform a routine, and then work on a small routine with people to help them get it down,” Obando said. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any experience or know how to dance; it is easy to pick up.”
Latino Heritage Month is a chance to help inform other cultures about the different aspects of the Latino community.
“We’re all very much in touch with our roots,” Obando said. “This is a month where we can shine and show Temple University what we’re all about, and put that little flavor, because Latinos have that little spice in them, that we want to share our culture with the rest of campus.”
Many of the Latino organizations on campus take advantage of this month to really share their culture in all aspects.
“Latino Heritage Month celebrates Latin America in every single aspect: cultural, social and political,” said Gabriela Estefania Sanchez Ricaurte, president of Pan-American Solidarity Organization.
This month is not only to explore the Latino culture and history, but also to learn about the relationship Latinos have in the United States today.
“In short, Latino Heritage Month is a month-long celebration of both Latino culture and heritage and recognition of the contributions that the Latino population has made to the United States over the years,” said Porter, a senior accounting major. “This is a population that has made, and continues to make, endless contributions to this country, and this often goes unnoticed. This month exists to also bring light to this fact.”
Before the end of the festivities there are still a few big events coming up. On Oct. 25, the Venezuelan Ambassador will be on campus at 7 p.m. in Tuttleman Learning Center room 105.
“I am very excited because it took us around eight months to organize it,” said Ricaurte, an international business and economics major. “We will have a diplomatic dialogue concerning U.S.-Venezuela relations, socialism of 21st century, and constitutional reforms.”
As the month winds down, Porter said he hopes people grasp a greater appreciation for the Latino culture.
“I would like for the month to end leaving people with not only knowledge of, but also a greater appreciation for the culture,” Porter said. “Many people miss out on this due to lack of exposure and often don’t realize the parallelisms existent between this culture and others, especially that of Afro-Americans. That’s why the month exists and as long as this is carried out, whether on a small scale or large scale, I’ll be a happy man.”
Only a few days remain, yet Obando said she has high expectations for the closing event. The ceremony is from 11p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Student Center Atrium.
Even though the month is coming to a close, everyone is trying to make the most out of the time that is left.
“We’re trying to prolong it as much as we can because it’s only a month and we want to do the best we can with that,” Obando said. “These events are great opportunities to learn more about Latin America and to understand other people’s circumstances or ways of living.”
Jenna Snader can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.