From the middle of September to the middle of October, we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage month with the goal of showing the importance of diversity, not only here on campus but nationally as well. The activities are meant to contribute to the growth of knowledge and appreciation of variety. God created each one of us differently so we could combine as individuals to become one.
For the first time on October 5, John Brown University and the Walton International Scholarship Program had the opportunity to show the Latino flavor and beauty at the Northwest Arkansas Hispanic Heritage Festival. At the festival, students from Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador and Mexico performed their national dances. The dances portrayed the cultural outcomes and daily life activities that identify each country.
Humor, love affairs and happiness were the aspects of the countries featured at the event. White, red, blue, yellow, stripes and a combination of all were part of the gorgeous costumes the students wore at the festival. But JBU students did more than just dancing; through their participation, they showed the charisma, joy and oneness that exist among Hispanics. Besides entertaining the public, the students’ performances transmitted the uniqueness of the Hispanic culture and the highlights of its traditions, such as music and art, seen in every original musical piece and colorful hand-made costume.
Pupusas, tacos, horchata and many other yummy beverages and plates were offered at the festival. There were also small companies and groups selling some of the most beautiful handmade crafts, jewelry and souvenirs for the public.
Everyone who attended the festival, whether Hispanic or American, was exposed to some of the aspects that make Latinos so special: food, dance, art and music.
Each year we celebrate the Hispanic heritage month at JBU to strengthen the bonds among students. JBU is well known because of the level of acceptance that students from all over the world receive, and even though we are foreign students, we definitely feel like we belong to this place. It is such a wonderful thing to feel welcomed in a community and also be part of it.
“I think it’s very important to create awareness of the Latino culture because, as Latinos, we are part of the world’s cultural mixture. It doesn’t matter the quantity, nation, tongue or tradition. We all can create an integrationist society,” said Claudia Alvarado, a JBU student from Honduras who participated at the festival as a violin performer.
Every time we, as the Hispanic community, have the opportunity to expose our culture, we are opening a new road toward harmony and unity. We are given the opportunity to eliminate social stereotypes and thus be perceived as something other than poverty, famine and crime.
Because of this, the Hispanic population at JBU should become more visible. We should make our good customs contagious! We should encourage Americans and students from other countries to learn Spanish, to learn how to cook Honduran, Panamanian, Nicaraguan or Colombian food. We should encourage them to learn about the beautiful handicraft from Guatemala or Costa Rica. They should know about the cheerful dances from Mexico and El Salvador. These and many other Hispanic countries have special features to offer that might be exposed publicly.
As Latinos and ambassadors, our job is to bring a piece of our traditions, language, dances and customs to share and create bonds of international friendship.