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Thursday, April 15, 2010

UNCP’s Hispanic Festival offers a taste of culture

By Justin Walker

As UNC Pembroke’s Hispanic Festival 2010 kicked off, students and faculty poured into the University Center Annex to join in a celebration of culture on March 31.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra

Carlos Flores Vizcarra

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Attendees embraced the rich culture of Hispanic nations on display. The event opened with a colorful display of flags representing the home nations of UNCP students.

Chancellor Charles Jenkins expressed his gratitude for the culture and the turnout.

“Culture is what UNCP is all about,” Chancellor Jenkins said. “We have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report and other national publications for our diversity, and this event is a clear demonstration of what it’s about.”

Keynote speaker was the General Consul of Mexico for the Carolinas, Carlos Flores Vizcarra.

Vizcarra brought greetings and expressed gratitude for UNCP’s celebration and for the excellent relations between the U.S. and Mexico. All Hispanic cultures, he said, are a continuously growing part of American society.

The General Consul offered insight into his duties with the embassy and his hopes for the future.

“It will be through education that we will make the biggest strides in the future,” he said.

Music, dance, art, language and food were the ingredients of the day.

Los Bravos dancers - From left: Hispanic Festival coordinator Irma Bachman, Kamishia Mcallister, Rakeem Lawrence, April Witherspoon, Daniel Epps, Sufilar Burns, Kevin Love and Edgar Flores, owner of San José restaurants and a food sponsor.

Los Bravos dancers - From left: Hispanic Festival coordinator Irma Bachman, Kamishia Mcallister, Rakeem Lawrence, April Witherspoon, Daniel Epps, Sufilar Burns, Kevin Love and Edgar Flores, owner of San José restaurants and a food sponsor.

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Mexican folk group, “Los Bravos,” performed the traditional dances “El Cerro de la Silla,” “El Jarabe Tapatio” and “San Antonio.” The troupe was composed of students Kevin Love, April Witherspoon, Daniel Epps, Sufilar Burn, Rakeem Lawrence and Kamishia McAllister under the direction of Irma Bachman of the Foreign Languages Department.

Dr. Liliana Wendorff, chair of the Foreign Languages Department, led a student theatre group who acted out well known fairy tales, including “The Three Little Pigs” (Los Tres Chochinitos) and “Little Red Riding Hood” (Lo Caperucita Roja). Actors included Calypso Ceja, Kevin Love, April Witherspoon, Daniel Epps, Enoc Robledo, Alma Vela and Noemy Zepada.

The Music Department contributed a rendition of “Rosa Maria,” performed by students Jason Thiele, William Bradley and Jamie Patterson.

Irma Bachman, Hispanic Festival coordinator, led UNCP’s Spanish Education students in songs of different nations and presented a video.

The “Women in the Mexican Revolution” photo exhibit was also part of the event. Bachman and General Consul Vizcarra cut the ribbon to open the exhibit, which will be on display through April 15 in the Multicultural Center in Old Main.

Closing the morning’s events, Bachman thanked the audience for its enthusiastic reception and praised the participants.

“In my opinion, the work of a teacher must go beyond the classroom,” Bachman said. “The main objective in the creation of activities such as this festival is to educate students about a cultural reality that is joined closely to the knowledge of the language.”

Los Bravos dancers

Freshman Rakeem Lawrence, a member of “Los Bravos” folk dancers, said: “I really enjoyed the show. It was entertaining and informative.

“I think we succeeded in displaying the real cultural heritage of Spain, and not just the commercial culture that is normally associated with that nation,” Lawrence said.

Another student in attendance during the event was senior business major Candice Lewis.

 “The festival was very refreshing, and it’s always nice to experience the energy of Hispanic culture, even if only for a moment,” Lewis said.

In closing, Dr. John Bowman of the Department of Sociology said he was pleased with the event.

“Any opportunity to expose our students to international culture is a great experience,” Dr. Bowman said. “Culture is more than what we see.

“We go to grocery stores and restaurants to enjoy the cuisine of the Hispanic culture, but there is so much more to be gained,” he continued. “I think here today we have witnessed a glimpse into that culture.”

Justin Walker is a senior Mass Communication major.

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