Summit High school held its third annual 'Festival Latino' on Friday, March 31. The event was hosted by Union Hispania, with the goal to not only entertain, but to strengthen bonds and create lasting friendships within the Latino Community of Summit and surrounding towns. The festival attracted about a hundred residents of Summit, Scotch plains, and Gillette.
The majority of the festival took place in the auditorium, where performances such as traditional songs and dances. Countries such as Cuba, the Dominican republic, the Philippines, El Salvador, Paraguay, Honduras, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Peru, and more were represented through flags, informational booths, and performances throughout the night.
Senior Ray Perez, Union Hispania Director of The Arts, performed a song very near and dear to his Cuban family called “Cuando salí de Cuba” or “When I Left Cuba” by Luis Aguilé.
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“Everyone in my family knows it.” Said Perez “My Grandpa used to have it on repeat in the car.. He had it on repeat in the house as well!” Perez originally joined Union Hispania after attending 'Festiva Latino' (then known as “Noche Latina”) in his sophomore year.
“I wanted to connect with my fellow Hispanics and really feel that sense of unity… I got to know them through the club” Perez said.
After the performances, those that attended were moved to the cafeteria for dinner and a slideshow. On the way, they were treated to beautiful paper decorations and booths that lined the halls. The booths each represented a country, and had fun facts and symbols of the culture, such as dances, clothing, hats, and flags, for onlookers to experience and identify with.
“[Hispanics] all have similar-ish cultures, and because of that we can relate to one another. Our differences can also bring us together in a sense that you can compare and discover the differences between cultures… In Columbia a lot of people wouldn’t know someone from Mexico, or what they sound like or what their culture is like, but I can do that just by attending the club, which is really cool,” Said Junior Jeffrey Lopez, a member of the Publicity Committee for Union Hispania.
Once in the cafeteria, the attendees were treated to a free dinner modeled after Costa Rican cuisine, as the cooks had Costa-Rican backgrounds.
“ What we’re having is truly the simplest Hispanic food… it's called “arroz y pollo”- rice and chicken. Each country makes it differently but it’s so unique to us because we all enjoy it.” said Senior Jean Carlos Carvajal, President of Union Hispanic. Half of Carvajal’s family is from Costa Rica, while the other half is from Nicaragua.
Sprinkled between the main events were activities such as a raffle for country-themed baskets, as well as caricatures drawn by Junior Hanz Seaz, and a slide show that documented all of the community building that Union Hispania has done over the past year.
Said Ray Perez “If anyone who comes to this event can take away just one thing it should be this -- it’s that we’re all human. It doesn’t really matter your nationality or your race… at the end of the day, we can all be friends. We’re all just human.”
Maya Shapiro is a Summit High School junior who writes about life as a student on the Kent Place Boulevard campus. She is an art editor for Verve, the Summit High School newspaper, drawing comics and political cartoons as well as contributing articles. In her free time, Shapiro paints, draws, sews, reads, and writes poems and books. She has always been passionate about journalism because of its ability to start discussions and bring communities together.
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