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Afro-Latino Festival Brings Culture to Life on Campus

    by Emilie Jenson, Public Information Office
    Posted on 9/27/2023

The Student Resource Center on the Iowa Central Campus came alive with the sights and sounds of world culture during the Fourth Annual Afro-Latino Festival.

As participants walked through the building, they could visit 53 displays representing Latino Hertiage or a country's currency. Each country was chosen by students in Iowa Central’s Spanish or Latin American History and Culture classes. Students researched their country of choice; its history, currency, government, culture and notable people and created a table display with photos, facts and even items native to the country.

Sophomore Julio Pacheco Reyes served as the “unofficial emcee” for the day’s festivities, announcing activities and introducing the various performers as they took the stage. He also created a display for his Latin American History class with the history of the Mexican Peso and Diego Rivera, the well-known Mexican artist whose face and work appears on the 500 Peso. He also included a display of native clothing from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, where his family has roots.

“It’s all hand painted, hand woven fabric from Oaxaca,” said Pacheco Reyes.

Pacheco Reyes appreciated the day's events, which he said allowed everyone to come together to experience a small part of the culture and diversity Iowa Central has on campus.

“I really appreciate everything about it,” he said. “It’s fun to see everyone enjoying the music and coming together to experience so many cultures. It is important to be submersed in culture every once in a while.”

Second-year Culinary Arts student Jorge Orozco worked at the Culinary Department’s table serving up Sopas, a traditional tortilla-like Mexican bread dish served with beef, Mexican pulled pork and duck topped with green onion, Pico de Gallo, cotija cheese and pickled onions. In other regions, the popular dish may have other names, Orozco said.

“Where my family comes from, the state of Guadalajara, the regional name would be gorditas,” he said.

Orozco estimated that he served around 200 people during the event before running out of Sopas.

Throughout the morning, attendees experienced performances by Son y Sabor Colombiano, a family of traditional dancers from Des Moines; Mambo Soul Dance Company and the music of Son Peruchos.

Manuel DeAragon, a member of Mambo Soul, kept participants active as they danced the timba, mambo, cha-cha and salsa. He soon had a crowd following along to the music on the dance floor as he led them in a line dance around the room.

“We love it,” said DeAragon. “Participation is very good; everyone seems to have fun here.”

Andrea Estling, event founder and Spanish instructor at Iowa Central, said she was excited for how well received the event has become.

“It’s such a wonderful event to have the opportunity to engage everyone in the Afro-Latino culture,” Estling said. “It is becoming bigger and better every year. We started this four years ago with around 40 people and today we have at least 500 people coming. It is something we now look forward to.”



Afro-Latino Festival Brings Culture to Life on Campus

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