About 150 students enjoyed Latino cuisine, dancing and speakers as Latinos for Progress presented its sixth annual Noche de Cultura Friday in the Marvin Center.
Pedro Rossello, former governor of Puerto Rico and a new GW faculty member, served as the keynote speaker for the event, discussing the advantages of diversity in the U.S.
“We can be seen as a stained glass with different parts, different shapes and different colors. It is the strength of diversity that will determine if the United States can keep its leadership in the world,” Rossello said.
Latinos are the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority group, according to the 2000 census report. Rossello said the numbers impose the responsibility of more participation.
“We must translate that into action by getting involved, going in to public service and becoming elected officials,” Rossello said.
The third floor lobby of the Marvin Center exhibited pictures, flags and artwork borrowed from the Embassy of El Salvador.
Sanda Rosa’s Restaurant, Carolina’s Restaurant and Senor Chicken
Restaurant provided food, including cultural cuisines of mofongo and platanos.
“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in the last five years and to see so many alumni join us here as well,” Latino Outreach Coordinator and LFP Graduate Adviser Sandra Gutierrez said.
The Contemporary Dance Theater of El Salvador danced in vibrant orange costumes on its eighth cultural exchange, as the GW Ballroom Dance Society, San Simon-Bolivian Dance Troupe and others performed traditional dances throughout the program.
Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity members junior Rudolfo Alvarez and Che Lopez from American University provided comic relief with their poetry.
“Noche de Cultura is a good opportunity to learn about my country’s arts and to see its contributions,” said Jessica Mayorga, a University of Maryland senior. She performed her rendition of Rumba de Cuba, a Latin dance.
Sophomore Autumn Smith-Jimenez, LFP secretary, created this year’s theme.
“I wanted the theme to be something contemporary and representative of our upwardly mobile youth. It’s nice to see second and third generations here, and tonight I think the theme was well-reflected,” Smith-Jimenez said.
Latinos for Progress changed the name of its organization to Organization of Latino-American Students. The organization will go by the new name next fall.
“LFP is our history, but now we are serving a different type of students, and we have made progress,” LFP President Erica Pinero said.