By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer
Fiesta is one of the largest multicultural event on campus, hosted annually by the Hispanic Student Association. This year’s event filled Burleson Quadrangle Friday night with live music, a gallery walking through several Latin American and Hispanic countries, a Latin dance performance, a petting zoo, free food and several other bits of Latin American and Hispanic culture.
Students milled around the Quadrangle in groups of friends, walking through a gallery of countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Spain, Costa Rica and Uruguay. Even the U.S. territory Puerto Rico was included. Each place was represented by a member of the HSA, ready with facts and famous citizens at hand.
Speaking at Spain’s stop on the gallery walk was Katy junior Nina Um, a member of HSA. Um presented figures such as legendary painter Pablo Picasso, actress Penélope Cruz and singer Rosalía against the backdrop of a vibrant red and yellow Spanish flag.
Um said her mixed Spanish and Korean heritage is important to her, and the HSA community has given her a way to connect with her background and to other students.
“Even though I’m half Spaniard, it’s still a great way to get connected to the community,” Um said. “I have a foot in the Hispanic culture and a foot in Korean culture and the Asian community here. It means a lot to me to be able to connect my identity and who I am to campus.”
The community and cultural appreciation that HSA provides isn’t limited only to students of Hispanic and Latin American descent. Little Elm sophomore and HSA treasurer James Huynh said although he is adopted, being a part of HSA is a way for him to connect with his parents’ culture.
“It’s just a big family — no discrimination, we accept everyone of every culture and every race,” Huynh said. “I am of Asian descent, but my parents are from Mexico, so for me it’s a great way to immerse myself in their culture and also represent my chosen family as well.”
The sense of pride in culture and heritage was palpable in the air at Fiesta, with yards of colorful papel picado strung on stair railings and from tree to tree among a constant stream of music. Event coordinator, Hacienda Heights, Calif., senior Evangelina Plasencia said she couldn’t have put Fiesta together without her event planning team and HSA officers. She wanted to go big this year, as Baylor has a diverse community that she wanted to highlight, she said.
“I wanted to showcase more of our culture because it is so rich and unique. So this year, I gave every officer an assignment to help me plan it out,” Plasencia said. “I wanted to go out with a bang.”
Plasencia said traveling to several Latin American countries is partly what inspired her to incorporate the gallery walk of countries at the event. HSA has been a great outlet in sharing the culture she found with her on-campus community, Plasencia said.
“I found some of my lifelong friends through HSA,” Plasencia said. “I’m very proud of my culture. I think seeing that I can help others here to find that uniqueness and to be proud of our roots is beautiful.”