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Fiesta Americas celebrates Latin culture

By Chris Campbell
On March 25, 2014

On Friday morning, Sandra Martinez, a sophomore majoring in sociology and president of the Latino Student Union, worried that not enough people would come to Fiesta Americas because many tickets were still available. But by the time the event started, the turnout was so good that she was worried there would not be enough chairs for everyone.

The event, which took place in the TSC Ballroom, included a dinner of rice, beans and chicken, several Latino dances and music sung in Spanish. It was put on by the LSU as a way to celebrate Latino culture.

“I think it went fantastic,” said Brooke Lambert, LSU adviser in the Access and Diversity Center. “They’ve been working hard all year long for this.”

The students put in about 50 hours just to learn the dances, said Erica Colvin, owner of Connection Social Dance Studio in Logan and choreographer of the event. She enjoyed working with students in LSU because it was a big group, and each dancer had a slightly different style from different regions with their own flavor.

“Bringing all of that flavor together into one place, it just works,” Colvin said.

Near the end of the event, scholarship recipients Kendall Peterson, a senior at Mountain Crest High School, and Eneida Rosas, a senior at Logan High School, read essays they wrote about what the phrase “Si, se puede,” — Spanish for “Yes, you can,” — means to them.

Martinez said along with exposing Latino culture to USU, a big part of the event was the theme of the essay. She said “Si, se puede” represents Latinos’ determination to succeed in their educational pursuits.

Lambert said the event also represented a celebration of Latino culture through a presentation about the important role played by the man who helped coin the term “Si se puede,” Cesar Chavez.

Chavez was a civil rights leader for Latino Americans who helped gain better conditions and benefits for migrant farm workers, Martinez said. The workers did a lot of farm work but were not making enough money to feed their families, let alone represent themselves.

“He worked really hard just to get rights for those people so they could work in better conditions, and so they could be recognized by the U.S. government that they’re not just farm workers, that they’re people, and they deserve rights,” Martinez said.

Lambert said it is important to have a diverse education of cultures in order to better understand other people.

“We’re going to be around people of all sorts of different cultures, and understanding a little bit of that can help us relate better to other people,” Lambert said.

Pablo Garcia, an undeclared freshman who co-hosted the event, said it is important to understand Latino culture because a lack of open-mindedness leads to ignorance, which then leads to misunderstanding.

“If you get to know a person’s culture and where they’re from and how they do things, then you have more understanding and appreciation for what they do,” Garcia said.

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