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Fiesta en la Calle

CSUF Celebrates Hispanic/Latinx Heritage

Billed as President Fram Virjee’s “block party,” students, faculty and staff celebrated their Hispanic/Latinx cultures as they danced to Marc Anthony’s “Vivir Mi Vida,” jumped in for an impromptu “Payaso del Rodeo” line dance and watched the upbeat and vibrant performances by Ballet Folklorico de CSUF. Block party-goers ate empanadas, were wowed by a spoken word artist, made colorful paper flowers and painted their faces, a tradition for cultural events like Dia de los Muertos and Carnaval. The Sept. 18 fiesta commemorated Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, hosted by Virjee and his wife, Julie.

"It’s a month to celebrate our history, culture and the vital presence of our community.” — Ariana Mora Mero, Chicana and Chicano Resource Center coordinator

Wearing bright yellow, blue and green costumes, eight dancers from Ballet Folklorico de CSUF student organization performed three songs from the state of Sinaloa, Mexico. Pictured is alumna Lizbeth Perez, Class of 2019, who earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

"Dance is such a bold expression of culture and is important to showcase because it is a visual representation of who we are." — Montserrat Contreras, president, Ballet Folklorico de CSUF, a double major in business administration and Spanish

Martha Zavala Perez, coordinator of the Titan Dreamers Resource Center, shows off her painted face, representing the vibrancy and richness of the Hispanic/Latinx culture.

Mario Alberto Obando Jr., lecturer in Chicana and Chicano studies, spoke about the history of the spoken word — poetry that is presented as a performance. Obando introduced Danyeli Rodriguez Del Orbe, a spoken word artist and poet who uses her voice to raise awareness around issues of race, gender and migration.

The Afro-Dominican poet shared poems about undocumented love and the struggles of living at the intersection of mass incarceration and deportation in "Undocumented Black Boy." “As a black immigrant myself, I felt a responsibility to document our stories of struggle, and most importantly, love.”

Danyeli Rodriguez Del Orbe gave a powerful and emotional performance of three poems. Her first, “A Poem of Resistance for Mami," brings “immigrant parents to light in our struggle. They sacrifice so much to get us to thrive, and yet they are the most marginalized and affected by the shortcomings of the immigration legal system.”

The celebration featured various cultural activities, including how to make paper flowers using colored tissue paper. Historically, a fiber called “amatl,” made out of tree bark, was used to write the Aztec and Mayan codices and also used to adorn ceremonial places and burials. Today, multicolored paper flowers decorate parties, weddings and religious celebrations.

Students Guadalupe Alonso, left, and Jahzeel Rangel take a fun photo in the photo booth.

When DJ SKITZ blasted Marc Anthony’s “Vivir Mi Vida,” block party enthusiasts headed for the dance floor and danced the night away.

“Like those first Hispanic block parties in the Bronx, this is a space of possibility,” CSUF President Fram Virjee said to the large, festive crowd.

“We are not here to separate Hispanic heritage from the many layers of the cultural quilt we call home, or to separate our Hispanic faculty, staff and students from the rest of campus. No, we are here to celebrate Hispanic/Latinx heritage and the richness it brings to our communities and classrooms.”

The university’s Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers and Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Programs partnered with the President’s Office to present the block party event.

Visit the Chicana and Chicano Resource Center, part of the Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers, for more information or to support its programs.

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