Performing for Puerto Rico

Jennie Torres

The Latino Cultural Society (LCS) hosted a Latin Festival to raise money for Puerto Rico in order to aid its residents after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. The event took place on Friday,  April 20 in the Burt Khan auditorium.

It has been a little over seven months since the category four hurricane struck the island on Sept. 20, 2017.

Junior English major Nivea Acosta said that she was personally affected by the aftermath of the hurricane due to the fact that most of her family lives in Puerto Rico, including young cousins and elderly great aunts.

“The hurricane made everyone homeless and we couldn’t reach anyone for a couple of weeks,” Acosta said. “We didn’t know if anyone was alive. Luckily everyone was okay, but it was a scary experience for my family.”

Senior biomedical science major and public relations chair of LCS Shelma Morales said she was also affected because a majority of her family members resided in Puerto Rico as well.

“It wasn’t until two weeks ago that all of my family members finally had their power restored. However, just last week there was another power outage in the entire island. Things get better and then slip-ups occur that take them back to square one,” Morales said.

The hurricane, which affected approximately 3.4 million residents, affected not only Morales but also senior health science major and president of LCS Kelsey Bombon who said mulitple news outlets reached out to LCS to give their reactions about the aftermath of the hurricane.

Morales spoke out about her feelings on the subject to the news, along with a couple of other LCS members. After witnessing that, Bombon said she fully recognized the issues with Puerto Rico went beyond its residents.

“This brought to my attention about a lot of what was happening to those affected, not specifically in Puerto Rico, but those who have family in the United States and especially within the Quinnipiac community. We need to do something about it,” Bombon said.

Bombon said LCS worked hard to find the best organization to donate money to in order to provide hurricane relief funds. LCS ultimately chose Caras Con Causa, an organization that promotes community development to eradicate poverty through education, the environment and economic development.

The proceeds collected for Caras Con Causa came from the $5 entrance fee and money collected from the raffle tickets. A total of $416 dollars was earned throughout the night.

There were approximately 100 students who attended the festival to watch various displays of salsa, bachata, merengue and saluting from greek life groups such as sorority Beta Rho Sigma, who traveled from another university and fraternity Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc.

There were also nods to African dance, which included a friend of Bombon’s performing an Afro-Peruvian Folk dance that originated during the times when people danced in celebration after being released from slavery. The university dance group, Step to Perfection also contributed to the event with rhythm dancing.

The festival also encouraged the audience to show off their own dance moves as they had a period to dance along to an array of multicultural music. Topped off with a DJ, photo booth and a wide selection of Latin food, the festival was meant to give off a homelike feeling to the students, according to Bombon.

“That is what we want to bring with [the Latin Dance Festival],” Bombon said. “It’s not just embracing the culture, but it’s that sense of home. That is one thing I’ve emphasized with all of my organization’s events is that we want that sense of home.”

Acosta said LCS has done a wonderful job of showing their support for Puerto Rico by using the festival to provide money for hurricane relief.

“I’m very grateful that we have an organization on campus that did such a thing. One of my professors knew what happened with my family and said that she would be more than willing to get something going to help with the relief effort, so just knowing people here care means the world,” Acosta said.

The event went well, according to Morales.

“[LCS members] pride ourselves in the fact that we are a very close-knit group and that we always look out for each other especially when planning events of this magnitude,” Morales said.

Junior accounting major and vice president of LCS Stephanie Martinez said the festival is usually held in the Spring and has good turnouts. For Martinez, this year’s festival was no different.

“It was great. We had fun, I think everybody else had fun. Everybody enjoyed the food. We strive to get more and more people to come every time,” Martinez said.

Martinez will take over Bombon’s role as LCS’ president beginning in Fall 2018, and as the new president Martinez said she hopes to keep the festival the same format as it was this year.

“Most likely the big events are going to keep the same because they are tradition. We’re probably going to add little events here and there to tests the waters. To see what the Quinnipiac community likes and what they don’t like,” Martinez said.

Martinez said that regardless of whether someone in LCS is a Puerto Rican or not, the hurricane’s damage on Puerto Rico has affected many people in the organization and they are glad to be useful to those in need.

“Us latinos together, as a unit, we’re very tight in culture,” Martinez said. “I feel like with everything going down in Puerto Rico it’s very hard for every Latino out there because everyone wants to get involved and help. So that’s our main purpose. This year was for Puerto Rico.”