Warhawks celebrate Hispanic culture with food, music

The crowd stared at the projector screen in awe as Reina Drake showed them pictures of traditional Mexican food like tacos de sesos, made from cow’s brain. 

The International Students Association partnered with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to host a week filled with events to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Hispanic Heritage Month lasts from Sept. 15 until Oct. 15 and celebrates the independence of some Hispanic countries.

Kaile Finies, the communications graduate assistant for the International Students Office, said that this is the most she has seen done for Hispanic Heritage Month on campus since 2016.

“We knew that we wanted to do something that highlighted the music and dance of Hispanic events,” Finies said. “The turnout was lower this year and it is due to this being the first time the event was hosted at this level in a long time.”

Cohosting more events and having other organizations promote the events would have enriched the experience, according to Finies.

At an event called “Dine and Learn,” Drake Reina, an assistant professor in the world languages department, taught participants about traditional Mexican meals and also helped them practice their Spanish pronunciation.

John Riley, a senior political science major who works with the international students program, said that the event was a great opportunity for domestic students to learn more about Hispanic and Latino culture.

“As domestic students, we tend to stay in our comfort zone and do not branch out as much as we should,” Riley said. “This was big learning experience for me to expose myself to different cultures and celebrate Hispanic and Latinx cultures.”

The host organizations hosted a Bachata and Salsa Night on Wednesday. Shanette Washington, the graphics design coordinator for the Office of Marketing and Communications, taught basic Salsa and Bachata steps to students at the Activity Center.

Gabriella Picon Barrios, a modern languages major, was drawn to the event because of her love for Hispanic music. 

“My family is from Venezuela and we grew up around a lot of Hispanic music and dances,” Picon Barrios said. “I thought the event was fun but I would have liked more students to participate.”

On Thursday they hosted a quiz on Instagram that tested students’ knowledge of Hispanic and Latino cultures and geography.

They also collaborated with Aramark to feature authentic Hispanic meals on Friday as a way to wrap up the eventful week.

Beau Benoit, a freshman toxicology major, heard about the week of events through flyers and social media posts.

“I would love to see a bit more aggressive advertising,” Benoit said. “The turnout was not incredibly large, so I would like to see the events promoted more on campus and social media so more students would know about the event.”