In observance of nine Latin American countries gaining independence over time, the Campus Events + Entertainment Mexican American Culture Committee and Latino Studies hosted Celebración de Independencias, a free event with performances from local artists, food and activities representing different Latin cultures.
Flags of Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua lined the walls of the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center Ballroom. In the center of the room, the committee served tamales and pupusas, but there was a catch — students had to complete at least three diverse activities before grabbing any food. Those activities, one in each corner of the room, were Lotería, a game similar to bingo, Kahoot, face painting and a photo booth.
“It’s incredibly important to immerse yourself in other cultures at UT,” said Paige Johnson, international relations and global studies senior. “I think it gives you a global perspective on things that are going on outside your immediate world.”
Psychology freshman Jonathan Sherchand, who said his roots are in Mexico, India and China, was one of many students in attendance. He said the event is important because it allows students to be able to embrace their cultures in a safe zone.
“I come from a small town, so trying to find a place where you can express yourself, I think it’s really good to increase the diversity here,” Sherchand said. “We have all these big events, but we shouldn’t undermine the smaller ones like this one.”
The Mexican American Culture Committee engaged students with live performances from Austin Samba, a group of drummers and dancers representing the styles of Brazilian Carnival, and Texas Folklorico Dance Company, a student organization honoring traditional Mexican dance according to the organization. After a performance, the Austin Samba invited students to dance on the ballroom floor.
“Even for other students that can relate to this culture, it’s a great opportunity to get involved in something that you are used to back home,” said Andrea Hernandez, Celebración de Independencias event coordinator and biochemistry senior. “Coming to UT, it’s such a big campus, and you can easily lose sight of people who are the same as you and enjoy the same things as you.”
Campus Events + Entertainment Mexican American Culture Committee has planned a posada, a Mexican Christmas tradition, in December and a Tejano Night in the spring,