June 23, 2024

From salsa dancing to trying Hispanic dishes, California Baptist University students who attended this year’s Hispanic Heritage Fiesta on Oct. 11 received the opportunity to learn about and celebrate Hispanic culture hold its annual Hispanic Heritage Fiesta. While the event was originally intended to take place in Lancer Plaza, rain forced all activities to move fully into the Community Life Lounge.

This event, scheduled during Hispanic Heritage Month, aims to provide a space for Hispanic students to express themselves and share their culture with fellow CBU students.

“This event is to educate, bring awareness and celebrate cultures within the Hispanic heritage,” said Emilee Thomas, assistant director of campus activities. “We have partnered with our student body to create a fun event that celebrates our Hispanic culture on campus.”

During the event, attendees enjoyed music, food and colorful decorations inspired by Hispanic culture. The event also involved student performances, dancing, games, crafts and even featured a piñata.

To prep for the event, Community Life connected with Latino students on campus to ensure the event accurately represented the Hispanic community at CBU. Eric Schmidt, a junior software engineering major, is one of the Community Life interns who was involved in the preparation for the event.

Samantha De La Paz | CBU Banner Community Life provided Hispanic foods for students to enjoy at the event.

“We put a lot of time, preparation and thought into this event because it means a lot,” Schmidt said. “It’s not just some CBU event — it’s an event where we celebrate culture and history, something that is super important to me and to a lot of others on the team.”

Throughout the planning process, Schmidt said that the team settled on three major aspects of Hispanic culture that they want the event to highlight: food, music and people. He emphasized that having conversations with Latino students on campus about their culture was a vital part of the process.

“We were able to have some really good conversations about what they would love to have here, and something that would make them feel at home,” Schmidt said. “I think that’s the goal: to make a lot of our Hispanic students on campus feel at home.”

Kimberly Roman, sophomore interior design major and president of the Latino Student Union at CBU, helped plan the event along with Community Life and other members of the Latino Student Union cabinet. They helped plan the game — loteria — as well as the piñata and some student performances.

“I hope Hispanic and Latino students get to feel proud of their culture and feel comfortable sharing it,” Roman said. “I want them to feel acknowledged and supported, and that, no matter what, juntos somos más! [together we’re more] I hope other students with different backgrounds can learn a little more about our culture and really respect it as much as we do.”

Schmidt said he hopes both Latino students and students with different cultural backgrounds benefited from the event. He hopes Latino students see that the CBU community cherishes their culture and had the opportunity to connect with other Latino students. For other students, Schmidt wanted this event to provide some insight into and understanding of Hispanic culture.

“I think I (was) looking forward mostly to seeing students’ reactions to the event and to seeing students smile, especially the Hispanic students, and to know they feel at home,” Schmidt said.

Ultimately, Thomas aimed to foster connections and encourage understanding of different cultural backgrounds, especially as CBU grows.

“For this event, we (wanted) to educate, bring awareness and celebrate Hispanic cultures on our campus,” Thomas said. “As we continue to grow in our diversity, we want to make sure that our student population is being seen.”

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