FIESTA unites Latino/a students

By Emily Sokolik

FIESTA, the largest Latino event on campus, will be held on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Foellinger Auditorium.

The event is a talent showcase featuring performances from Latino/Latina groups on campus along with some performances by other ethnic groups, said Celina Villanueva, FIESTA chairperson and junior in LAS.

FIESTA is held annually in late April to mark the conclusion of Latino History Month.

Villanueva said FIESTA dates back to 1992 when Latino students at the University held protests in an effort to increase Latino recruitment and retention rates on campus. FIESTA was a way for students to celebrate their culture and feel more connected to the Latino community, Villanueva said.

This year’s theme is “Breaking Barriers.” In the past, FIESTA has focused solely on members of the Latino community. Saturday’s performance will include a broader range of ethnic groups and will target a more mainstream audience.

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The show was partly inspired by the National Day of Action, a rally for immigrant justice, held on the Quad earlier this month, said Lia Garcia, FIESTA committee member and junior in LAS.

“The event is a good way to get support from everyone and show pride in our culture,” she said. “We’re hoping to get everyone to be a little bit more open minded on campus.”

At the event, Lambda Theta Phi, a Latino fraternity at the University, will present a scholarship award to a local high school student. The recipient is an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who would otherwise have difficulty attending college, said Jesse Palencia, member of the fraternity and junior in Business.

“We really thought we needed to step up and help someone,” he said.

Palencia said they will also raffle off a painting by Vivian Zapata, the official artist of the 2005 Latin Grammy Awards and sophomore in LAS.

Cecilia Macias, freshman in LAS, will be singing a traditional Spanish song for the event.

“I am excited,” Macias said. “I am singing a beautiful song and I will get to share a gift I received from God.”

Villanueva said she expects anywhere from 300 to 1,000 people to attend the event on Saturday. Tickets are $4 in advance and $5 at the door.