Students celebrated Latin American and Caribbean culture at the Elliott School of International Affairs’ City View Room with traditional food, music and dances Wednesday.
Each year, GW’s International Student Office celebrates International Education Week – a joint initiative between the U.S. State Department and the Department of Education – by showcasing different cultures to celebrate diversity and promote studying abroad. This year, ISO partnered with BRASA, GW Brazilian Club, and LATAM@GW, the Latin American Student Association, to host La Fiesta Latina, an event recognizing Latin American and Caribbean culture.
Performances included GW Folklorico performing a traditional Mexican dance and GW Argentine Tango performing an Argentinian tango. Later, guests were encouraged to participate in traditional dances on the dance floor, led by dance instructor Carolina Hernandez.
Mariana Ortiz-Barreto, president of LATAM and an organizer for the event, said the event promotes the value of international education and brings attention to historically underrepresented groups.
Ortiz-Barreto said she hoped the event would “celebrate diversity of culture” and chose colorful decorations that would “draw commonalities from all cultures.” Ortiz-Barreto said she also picked a Brazilian caterer to provide a diverse display of food like Brazilian hearts and Mexican shrimp empanadas – dishes served across Latin America.
While the theme was celebrating and appreciating Latin American and Caribbean culture, there was also an emphasis placed on the value of international education programs through a video and presentation the ISO showed at the event.
BRASA Vice President Rafael Matalon said he hopes that this event can “spread cultural awareness” and serve as a starting point for future BRASA events to bring people together in celebrating Latin American culture.
BRASA president Bruno Janikian said, “having a space at GW is really important.” She said she hopes guests will use this event as an “opportunity to learn more about countries and cultures.”
“The Latino community is really spread out around GWU, so having an event at the most important room, combined with performances and foods, all funded by ISO, really shows how we have a place at GW,” Janikian said.
Anvitha Prasad, a student attendee, said she heard about La Fiesta Latina through a flyer posted in her dorm hall. Though it was the dancing element that attracted her to the event, Prasad said the event was “beyond the academic aspect, looks at the culture.”
“You can get more from watching the dances, hearing the music and enjoying the food than you can from what the textbook tells you,” Prasad said.