By Jennifer Abreu
An event Thursday evening featured a salsa dancing stage, a history board game, Brazilian music performance and Loteria, a Mexican board game.
People crowded the Small Ballroom in the Student Center to participate in UK’s first Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month Campus Celebration.
Carlos Marin, assistant dean for community and cultural engagement, estimated more than 120 attended.
The H/LHM Core Planning Team had initially expected 70 people and set up for 90, Marin said.
Marin said the celebration to honor Latin heritage month was to connect Latinos at UK to each other and also to the campus community.
“We not only wanted to respond to the needs of Latino students, staff and faculty on campus, we also wanted to find out ways to be proactive, to give back to the university,” Marin said.
Marin was surprised at the diversity in attendance and said the event received a “multicultural response.”
Kevin Malone, a geology sophomore, appreciated UK’s initiative.
“I think this is a culture that is underrepresented here because Latin America is just below us,” he said.
Malone, who spent a year in Spain, also made a suggestion.
“I wish they had incorporated the more modern culture and music, representing what’s going on in Latin America right now, rather than the more traditional,” he said, “but overall, I enjoyed it.”
A visitor from Ecuador, Dr. Luis Alberto Tuaza, is working on his postdoctoral at UK and also attended the event.
Tuaza said he met people from Colombia, Peru, Mexico and France and said that sharing culture is important.
“Here in the U.S. there is room for sharing, and that’s when life is more enjoyable, when we can share and be united,” he said.
Tuaza is staying for a month in the U.S. and is speaking at the Global Mountain Region Conference on Oct. 26 hosted by the UK Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program.
Sneha Thapa, in her first year of graduate school in anthropology, was giving salsa lessons throughout the celebration.
Thapa learned how to salsa in Nepal, where she is from, and said she danced with about 10 people, including “a little girl, and she was so cute,” she said.
“I learned a lot about people,” she said, “I met people from Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico.”
The Latino heritage month celebration on campus wraps up Oct. 12 with the Politics of Latin American Migration in Student Center Room 230 from 2 to 3 p.m.
Professor David Cook-Martin from Grinnell College and professor Chirstian Zlolniski from the University of Texas will be speaking to discuss migration policies in the U.S. and Latin America.