Iowa Central to host Afro-Latino Festival
by Iowa Central Information
Posted on 9/20/2022
In observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Iowa Central Spanish Department is preparing to celebrate with the annual Afro-Latino Festival.
Started in 2019 as a small event with just a handful of participating classes, Andrea Estling, Spanish instructor at Iowa Central, said she hopes to see the event grow beyond the walls of the campus this year.
Estling extended invitations to several local high school Spanish classes, city and state officials, area businesses and neighboring Friendship Haven. This year’s event is also largely funded by grants from the local Catherine Vincent Deardorf and Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust foundations.
“We started this with probably 50 students, three years ago,” said Estling. “This year we have sent out many invitations and hope to involve the community, I’d like to see 600 people.”
With several Hispanic and Latino staff members and a large Hispanic student population throughout the three Iowa Central campuses and career academies, Estling said the Afro-Latino Festival was started to bring more awareness of the culture.
“We had an idea and saw this as a way to fill a need,” said Estling, a native of Colombia. “It’s a way to have a direct encounter with many cultures.”
The festival will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 6 in the Student Resource Center on the Iowa Central Fort Dodge campus. It will feature educational posters created by Spanish and Latino History students, food, music, dancing and traditional dress representing various countries.
There will be performances by a Fort Dodge area Brazilian music group and Son Peruchos, a Des Moines based band that plays a fusion of Andean, South American, Latin and Caribbean music.
Estling said she is excited for the festival and the learning opportunities it will provide.
“This is a chance to really engage in the culture,” she said. “It is one thing to see it in a book, but different to be able to experience it through food, music and dress. It is a wonderful way to showcase who we are and our Spanish classes. I think we have a real opportunity to be leaders here; I don’t know of any other community college in Iowa that does this.”
At Iowa Central the professors focus on the success of the students, and with small class sizes it makes interaction with the professors easier. You are not just some random number in a class at Iowa Central. The teachers are always available and can respond to any question you may have in a timely manner.