It's a Fiesta! Armstrong Celebrates Latino Heritage Week

(Oct. 2, 2013) September went out with a Latin bang as Armstrong celebrated its annual Latino Heritage Week hosted by the Hispanic Outreach and Leadership at Armstrong (HOLA) program.

“Heritage is very important to every person, it doesn't matter where they come from,” said HOLA president Yair Munoz. “We want to share our heritage so others can see why it is important to us.”

The celebration kicked off on Monday, Sept. 23, with an international art exhibition gallery talk by Armstrong professor of Art, Rachel Green. HOLA and Armstrong's Department of Art, Music and Theatre partnered on the new faculty and student exhibition, “Un Tejido de Nuestras Culturas” (A Fabric of our Cultures): Art and Community in Argentina. Green discussed the Argentinean indigenous community of General Enrique Mosconi, near Salta, Argentina.

On Tuesday, there was a special screening of “No,” a film by Pablo Larrain about a young advertising executive who gets recruited to help free Chile from the grip of dictator Augusto Pinochet in the late 1980s. The film provided a historical perspective of a defining chapter in Chile's history.

While the gallery talk and film screening allowed students to feed their minds, Fiesta Day on Wednesday allowed students to feed their Latin appetites.

“It's the biggest event of the Latino Heritage Week,” said Armstrong student Deanna King. “It's where we bring the food aspect of our cultures together.”

Guests were able to stroll through the Armstrong Mercado (Latin market) and browse 11 different country displays and sample various Latin foods. Fiesta Day marked more than just a celebration of Latin culture, however; it also marked HOLA's ten-year anniversary. It's a milestone that marks more than just the organization's longevity.

“I believe that HOLA is an organization that was established to enrich the experience of students on campus,” said Munoz. “HOLA has helped me grow not only as a student, but as a person.”

Fiesta Day gave students, faculty, staff and community members the opportunity to expand their knowledge of other cultures. As Munoz pointed out, Latin culture is very diverse and while they are the Latino culture as a whole, each Latin country is not the same, a fact that many Fiesta Day attendees discovered.

“I love how so many different Latin cultures were shared,” said Armstrong student Natasha Adams. “I really enjoyed hearing, seeing and sharing so much while making new, awesome friends.”

The festivities continued on Thursday with Salsa Night, an interactive dance party that focused on two major styles of Latin dance, Salsa and Bachata.

“Salsa is really big in Latin culture and I think that dancing is something that brings us together as a whole, no matter where you come from,” said Munoz.

Latino Heritage Week came to a close on Friday with a concert featuring the Latin reggae-urban soul band, Xperimento. It proved to be the perfect finale to a weeklong series of events that celebrated Latin culture through art, film, food, dance and music.

“The ultimate purpose of Latino Heritage Week was to share our culture with the university and I believe we did that,” said Munoz.