Fiesta celebrates Hispanic heritage, culture

Aztec Dancers perform during Fiesta 2010! April 15, 2010. This year’s Fiesta is from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday in Traditions Plaza.
Round Up File Photo

By Bonnie Berger

Street tacos, salsa dancing, activity booths and prizes offer students a break from scholastic duties as the sixth annual Fiesta spices up Traditions Plaza on today from 6 to 9 p.m.

A joint endeavor by the Hispanic Student Association and the Baylor Activities Council, Fiesta unites the Baylor student body and the local community for an evening of flair, flavor and fun.

“Fiesta is about celebrating the Hispanic culture and embracing the Waco community along with Baylor students to learn more of what Hispanic culture is about through activities, festivities and everything else we offer,” said Hispanic Student Association public relations chair and Plano senior Leslie Ysuhuaylas Hennings.

Organizers of the event hope to reach students by making the entertainment varied and providing food.

“Everything is provided free of charge, from food to entertainment,” said Hispanic Student Association vice president and Eagle Pass junior Mario Longoria. “It’s a really good experience for Baylor kids who are looking for an opportunity to see something like this.”

Melding a deeper understanding of Hispanic culture and influences, Fiesta exposes students to colorful learning opportunities.

Students have the opportunity to fully experience authentic Hispanic influences through every aspect of the event, ranging from the food to prizes straight from Mexico, Longoria said.

Originally modeled after the weeklong Fiesta San Antonio, the event began five years ago in an endeavor to share Hispanic culture with the Baylor community.

Now a regular Hispanic Student Association undertaking, students rely on Fiesta for a vibrant celebration of minority heritage.

“HSA’s motto is ‘Many cultures, one family,’ and that’s what we’re trying to build here,” Longoria said. “We are a minority on campus so when we get together that’s a feeling we want to give our members and visitors.”

In addition to activity booths and culinary treats, students can expect an evening of flavorful music and dancing from the Baylor Latin Dance Society.

Other guest performances will include the Dallas Aztec Dancer Cualli Tepectl, Ballet Folklorico Celestial, Spanish Fly and others.

“We believe that Baylor students would like to immerse themselves in the Hispanic culture,” Hennings said. “It’s like a local study abroad experience or a similar opportunity that some students may not be able to experience.”

In previous years, attendants have numbered around 250 and Hispanic Student Association anticipates continued growth from Waco’s diverse community and the student body.

“This year we have more activities, more performances, bigger acts and we’re expecting numbers to grow this year,” Hennings said.

The festival is not just about fun and food, however.

“I hope students will appreciate our culture and be more aware of it,” Longoria said. “We are a small minority on campus, but we do have a festive culture.”

For more information, contact student activities at (254) 710-2371.