BY JORDAN GINDER
The Hispanic Coalition hosted Fiesta Baile on Friday, September 21. The event connected the campus community with the Hispanic and Latinx locals around Alma.
History Professor Daniel Wasserman spoke about his goals in helping organize the event. “Part of it is to reach out to the community, but just as important is to give our students a chance to learn something about Hispanic cultures. [We] also want to encourage folks to see Hispanic cultures as rich, as having something significant to offer to our country.”
Fiesta Baile took place in Van Dusen and started officially at 6:00 p.m.. Colorful decorations and art made by local kids in the Alma Community Art Center decked the hallways. A mariachi band played and people danced the samba. Dance lessons were also given at Van Dusen and at Highland Blush.
Local restaurants like Bracero, Terry’s Tex Mex, Los Hermanos, and Cancun provided different foods for the event, including dinner and dessert. Information booths for organizations were also set up for the MidMichigan Migrant Resource Council and the local chapter of the United States Department of Agriculture.
“We hope that our students learn[ed] and our community learn[ed]… about the kinds of services that may be offered,” said Spanish Professor Stephany Slaughter, one of the main organizers of the event. “M.M.R.C. came and brought representatives that provide information for services such as farm worker legal aid and a number of other possibilities… that can help local farm workers and folks that are not in the farm working community but that could also perhaps benefit from that information and services.”
“Fiesta Baile started in 2010. It started for two main reasons and one came from a student’s suggestion. 2010 was the 200th anniversary of the independence of multiple Latin American countries. It was also the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution,” said Slaughter. “The summer before [the first Fiesta Baile] we had an intern in the Mexican consulate in the Detroit. She came back and said we do all the Scottish stuff — the Highland Festival — what if we did something like that thinking about the Bicentenario (Bicentennial).”
According to Slaughter, the Hispanic Coalition began activities a few years later. “In talking with students what should we call this? How do we make an organization that reaches beyond students — beyond campus that feels inviting so we thought [of the word] ‘coalition.’”
“What we wanted to do is what can we do to bring people around the sort of goals that we have and some of that is to promote Spanish language and Hispanic has that piece of language in a way that Latinx doesn’t necessarily assume,” said Slaughter. “[Hispanic Coalition has] evolved over the years as a student organization that also brings in the community. Fiesta Baile is a big part of that.
“This is the 9th year [we held] Fiesta Baile — where we have community members that help organize and are really invested in the event as one of the few events that does bring people to campus in this way — particularly from the local and surrounding Hispanic and Latinx communities.”
“This is my third Fiesta Baile. I’m a first generation student so [it helped] having a welcoming vibe. Also [our goal is] educating the campus — it’s just not the stereotype — we have a bunch of cultures and a bunch of different variety.” said Guadalupe Salgado (‘20), the President of Hispanic Coalition.
“Politics aside, as human beings it’s good to acknowledge what every person brings to the table. There are so many people of Hispanic ancestry in this country, so it’s good to know a bit about the history and culture of many of those folks,” said Wasserman.