An Invitation to Celebrate in Community
By t love smith- Ad Manager
On Thursday, October 12th, around lunch-time, the International Student Affairs (ISA) kicked-off the Latin Heritage Month Celebration with an hour-long yoga class taught partially in Spanish. A couple dozen students attended the event. A handful of folx who arrived too late tried hard not to peek at the yogis through the windows. They busied themselves with hushed conversations, waiting patiently for the standing festivities to begin with latin music and a buffet of Latin food. There were colorful Latin floral party decorations hanging around the room, which set a welcoming tone of vibrancy and commemoration.
Maria Fernanda Dominguez, a USM graduate student who was the point person for the festivities said that the focus was on bringing the USM community together to relax with yoga and showcase some Latin American food. Dominguez said, “the yoga instructor, Jada Mackinnon, is half Guatemalan and taught the class partially in Spanish,” Mackinnon seeks to expand the scope of inclusiveness and make yoga inclusive to all abilities and body types.
The reason Dominguez got involved with the ISA was because it’s, “a safe welcoming space for underrepresented communities of students, taking intersectionality into consideration.” She expressed how it’s important to her to do the work of making sure that underrepresented communities have access to celebrating their diversity.
As the yoga session was coming to a close, everyone must have felt like drooling with bellies begging for a taste of the delicious empanadas on the buffet tablet. The intoxicating aroma of properly-seasoned meats from Quiero Cafe filled the entire 7th floor of the Glickman library. This food was loaded with flavor as rich as its Latin heritage. Someone clicked a knob and Latin rhythms blended with new conversations setting an ambient, warm culturally-rich vibe. The buffet-line wrapped around the room, everyone filled their plates and grabbed a lemonade or watermelon juice. The menu consisted of three different types of empanadas; plantain, chicken and steak. For dessert, all-you-can-eat, adorable and sweet baby churro bites overflowed the last tray on the buffet line.
Round tables were weighted down by a forming community of students indulging in some of the best Latin food in Portland. Attendees broke bread and the ice simultaneously. There’s something about eating delicious food that lets our guards down. Conversation is easy when it starts with food or weather, isn’t it?
Food provides a unique bonding tool for bringing communities closer through roots to cultural heritage and identities. Sharing brings connection and solidarity. Dominguez said, “The Latinx community is very quiet in Maine and I think it’s important to start having events like this where we can proudly play our music and eat our food but at the same time share it with the rest of the community too!” There was more than enough food and inclusivity to go around at the celebration, even after second helpings.
A great way to make USM and Maine in general more inclusive towards the Latinx community, Dominguez says, is for non-Latinx community members “to show interest in learning about our language, customs, food and music.” She says, “Latin America is so diverse and being Latinx is not one size fits all, so just taking a bit of time to learn more about the vast cultural richness it has is already a great start.” According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Latin America consists of the entire continent of South America, in addition to Mexico, Central America, and the islands of the Caribbean. This makes up 33 countries and 448 languages creating a robust blending on cultural heritage. There’s so much to learn about each other, that’s why events like this one are a special opportunity to get to know more. Keep your eyes on Husky Hub to stay connected to student events.
Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (2023, October 15). History of Latin America. Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Latin-America