Hispanic heritage celebration

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures hosted its annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration last Wednesday.

There were multiple exhibitions at this event.  At the event, there were tables set-up with different labels of various Latin American countries, a couple of cultural and ethnic artifacts and posters hung of famous or well-known individuals from that country.  These exhibitions were available for viewing for the entire course of the celebration.

“The Hispanic Heritage Celebration at Oswego State began with the Ms. Otilia Cortéz,” said Beatríz Salcedo-Strumpf, a Spanish professor at Oswego State.  “I am the coordinator this year for the Hispanic Heritage Celebration at Oswego State; however, Cortéz was the one who established this tradition, here at the Modern Languages and Literatures Department.  Cortéz’s intentions were to, on the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, have open exhibitions, performances and a taste of Latin American culture available to any student or staff at Oswego State of Hispanic-heritage, or not.  She unfortunately passed away on June 7, 2013, after a four-year battle with cancer, so she did not get the opportunity to see how, what she created, has grown into a very successful tradition in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department, and the Oswego State community, as a whole.  However, by having this annual celebration, it’s almost like we are also honoring her for starting this cultural awareness event in the Oswego State community.”

As well as exhibitions, there were also six cultural dishes served during the first part of the event. There were three different varieties of Tostitos chips; a plate of sandwiches; a rice dish, which contained small, chopped pieces of sausage, vegetables, and red beans, two dips, one of which was hummus, and the other which was a refried-bean base, layered with diced tomatoes, avocado, shredded cheese and diced green peppers; and the last dish was yucca, a root that is used as a main food dish in many Latin American countries, almost like how potatoes are used in the United States.

There were also two performances. The first one was when a couple of students from a Spanish 102 course this semester shared adivinanzas, or “riddles.”  The second performance was a couple of students from Salcedo-Strump’s Spanish 101 course, singing “Guantanamera,” one of the best-known Cuban songs.

All the attendees proceeded to the Campus Center auditorium where the event continued.  The following activity was a presentation by sophomore Alyssa King. King’s presentation was of the music video of the song “Latinoamericana,” performed by Calle 13, a Puerto-Rican band, formed by stepbrothers René Pérez Joglar, Eduardo José Cabra Martínez and their half-sister, Ileana Cabra Joglar.

“I wanted to share this music video and this song at Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration because I think it truly represents the lifestyle of a population that’s very beautiful and takes a lot of pride of their heritage,” King said.  “The images and the lyrics are very symbolic of Latin American lifestyle.”

After King did the presentation, senior Martha Mendoza was the next in the schedule of the event.  Mendoza read out loud to us a short story that she had written the previous semester.

“This short story that I am going to read aloud is inspired by the Cherokee nation, and the characters are based on legends known as the “little people”, los gnomos, the gnomes and los duendes, fairies,” Mendoza said.

The fifth activity on the agenda was to listen to three students read poems they had written in their class with Salcedo-Strumpf.  The assignment for composing the poem was to “think of a moment or an idea that makes you feel happy or sad.”  Elena Sánchez-Freeman wrote a poem about how she feels pride in having both her Spaniard heritage and her American heritage in her identity. James Dyllan wrote a poem about how happy he feels when he is swimming. Naomi Castillo-Lugo wrote a poem about her love of chocolates and sweets.  Upon reciting their poems, first in the Spanish language, the students then recited them in the English language.

“The history of this country has been made up of different traditions and cultures around the world,” Gonzalo Aguiar said. “In that sense, I think this event highlights the best values that democracy has to offer to people from different backgrounds and beliefs.  It has been seen that in the Hispanic Heritage celebration, there is a joyful spirit, where values, such as multiculturalism, tolerance and respect for one another are wonderfully represented through popular culture, food, music and dance.”

Even though some of the activities did not stay on schedule because of some students not showing up on time for their individual performances, to make use of the time while the attendees awaited upon the arrival of certain students, Mendoza and Professor Loayza, another Spanish professor, did some improvisational presentations and performances.  Loayza was born and raised in Argentina.

In Argentina, one of the most well-known and cultural music genre and dance is the Tango.  Loayza chose to sing the song “Mano a Mano,” sung by Carlos Gardel, a French Argentine musician and an important figure in the world of Tango.  Mendoza demonstrated a couple music videos on Youtube.  The first music video portrayed a typical “gaucho,” a cowboy from the South American pampas, dance.  Afterward, Mendoza exhibited a music video for the song “El Condor Pasa,” and “The Condor Passes,” by Leo Rojas. Daniel Alomía Robles demonstrated traditional Andean instruments and tunes.  Also, the music video and song Caporales, by Savia Andina, Andean a music group based on Bolivia, was shown by Mendoza, demonstrating also Andean rhythms.

“It is absolutely essential for the well-being of our country for our non-Hispanic citizens to be exposed to the culture of our Hispanic population,” Tracey Lewis said.  “The Spanish-speaking part of the world is one of the greater regions of the planet.  The world needs to learn about, and the Hispanic population needs to learn about the rest of the world as well.”

The Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, featured a few students: Kelvin De la Crúz, Anna Eusebio and Daniela Rosario, from the Latino Student Union, here at Oswego State. They did a demonstration of a couple Caribbean-based Latin dances: the merengue, the salsa, and the bachata and the bomba.  The very last activity scheduled in the event was for Professor Salcedo-Strumpf’s Spanish 302 class this semester to sing as a group, Fruta Fresca, by Carlos Vives.