West Campus celebrates Latin American culture with event

WEST CAMPUS — Valencia students and faculty experienced a taste of Latin American culture on Wednesday in the Health and Science building. Students danced to live music while gaining knowledge on the region’s culture and history.
The Student Development department of Valencia’s West Campus hosted an afternoon of live music, salsa lessons and traditional Latin American dishes. A continuous stream of curious students flowed in and out of the event.

For freshman, Aubri White, the experience was enlightening. “I stumbled upon this event when I heard the music playing from the hallway,” said White. “The food’s good, the music is great, I even learned some Spanish.”

Student Development members handed out miniature maracas and a small sheet of paper listing the translations of several common Spanish phrases. Congalaye, an eight piece salsa band, played music originating from the region’s many countries.

The band performed original songs as well as popular covers upon request. Even though most songs were sung in Spanish, non-speakers enjoyed the music as well.

“Latin American culture has a big influence in the United States,” said Congalaye percussionist and Hispanic culture enthusiast Edgar Velázquez. “It’s great for people of other backgrounds to attend these kinds of things and gain a better understanding of our history and customs.”

Information on each Latin American country was displayed throughout the banquet hall. Students and faculty floated from table to table learning about each country’s customs and flags. The stations also identified celebrities in the U.S. who were born in each of the region’s 12 nations.

Students took pictures from their smart phones in front of the flags at each balloon-lined station corresponding with their country of origin.

The center of the banquet hall served as a dance floor and center stage for salsa lessons. As many as 30 students lined up to learn the dance moves choreographed by members of the band. Following the 15-minute lesson each participant grabbed a partner and danced to the live music. Among the salsa enthusiasts was Student Development Advisor Marsha Clarke.

“We want people to learn as much as possible about all the different cultures which make up Latin America,” said Clarke, coordinator of the event.

Next up, student and faculty can look forward to an Asian-Pacific festival celebrating the history and customs of Polynesian culture. Any questions regarding upcoming events hosted by the Student Development organization can be answered by Marsha Clarke at 407-582-3142.