Noche de Cultura inspires deep appreciation for Latin-American culture

Noche de Cultura is the Hispanic Society of Lafayette’s largest annual event and this year’s festivities introduced some cultural flair through food and games and a serious conversation about identity through the poetry of Mayda del Valle.

“¡Welcome mi gente!” was the greeting given by the Hispanic Society of Lafayette (HSL) at “Noche de Cultura.” This event culminated Hispanic Heritage Month, and is HSL’s largest annual event. While the audience was munching on beef empanadas and arroz con habichuelas, a performance by the Xochi Quetzal Folkloric group kicked off the night.

Mexican native Martha Monroy led her pupils in a dance sequence which paid homage to beliefs and daily lives of pre-colonized Aztecs. Their enactment complimented the engaging nature of the host for the night – Eddie Andujar ’15. He proceeded to invite the audience up for a competitive game of limbo, in which Jacob Hasse ’17 and Joel McKnight, Dean of Intercultural Development John McKnight’s son, dominated. The audience was then treated to a performance of “Frio, Frio” by Natalie Cardenas ’17 and Ben Ritter ’17.

The Dominican bachata song was covered beautifully by Cardena’s lilting vocals and Ritter’s artful guitar strokes. Musical chairs was played to various Latin American songs, and Xochi Quetzal performed once again.

The culmination of the night was topped by a series of performances by Mayda de Valle, an accomplished poet. She captivated the house with her pieces on love, family, “proper” language, and the dichotomy of identifying as Latin-American. Mayda de Valle’s words illustrated her struggle, yet they settled into the hearts and minds of all those present.

After her soulful and powerful readings, she received a standing ovation. “Noche de Cultura” was successful in sampling Hispanic culture around the world, but in a greater sense, compelled its audience to recognize Hispanic cultures as ones to be respected and celebrated.

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