Members of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin sorority, Latino Student Alliance and Engineers Without Borders stand for a photo at the Latin Carnival on Nov. 15, 2017, in the University Center. The event was held to immerse students in Latino culture. (Courtesy of Dabney Brice)

Carnival celebrates Latin culture with food, dance

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As a part of International Week, the Lambda Theta Alpha Latin sorority, Latin Student Alliance and Engineers Without Borders hosted a Latin Carnival on Nov. 15 in the University Center to promote and celebrate different Latin and Caribbean cultures.

The event welcomed people from all backgrounds to try new games, foods and styles of dance such as salsa and merengue.

“This Latin carnival is something important to me because one of the sayings of my sorority, Lambda Theta Alpha, is ‘Latin by tradition,'” Dabney Brice, ’18, said. “It is very important to celebrate this Latin tradition and recognize the importance of our founding mothers, and I look forward to this event being a full year thing because I want to see multiple cultures represented throughout Lehigh.”

At the event, attendees played games like “guess the flag,” ate churros and tres leches cake, and broke a piñata — an important tradition in some Latin cultures.

The room was decorated with flags representing various Latin countries and pictures of students on campus with different backgrounds.

“I decided to come to this event because I am Hispanic and wanted to be part of the Latin community to find more people like me,” Jessica Batista, ’21, said. “Being in an environment where you are exposed to different cultures helps you learn more about it and become influenced by it in many ways.”

The first act of the event was a musical performance by Gustavo Grinsteins, ’18, and Alan Bebout, ’18, who used a guitar, piano and cajon — a traditional Latin instrument — while singing popular songs such as “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesia and “Tengo Tu Love” by Sie7e.

Grinsteins said he takes every opportunity he can to represent his Latin culture through his singing and musical performances.

“This week is important for everyone because Lehigh can sometimes feel like a bubble, so it is important to promote different cultures,” Grinsteins said. “This event and other events during International Week give people an opportunity to have a venue to learn more especially with everything that is going on in the world.”

Lehigh Zumba instructor Taynah Oliveira, ’17, taught merengue, salsa and bachata to participants. She said she was excited to have the opportunity to take part in an event that celebrates Latin culture, especially because she is Brazilian.

“This is incredible,” Oliveira said. “I love to see Latin culture represented especially at a place like Lehigh. Lehigh needs Latin culture, they know they want it and it is great to see different aspects of the culture at this event.”

Oliveira hopes to see more events that help showcase and promote Latin culture, such as bachata and salsa nights.

The last performance of the night came from Jasmine Banful, ’20, also known as DJ Zen, who played popular Latin hits.

Cianni Hayes, ’19, the event organizer and officer of the Latin Student Alliance, was happy with the number of people who came to the event. She said the event was meant to be inclusive of all cultures, and she wanted students to immerse themselves in cultures different from their own.

“In the future we would like to have a sit down (event) and have a discussion about different cultures,” Haynes said, “and also have more fundraisers, especially for places like Puerto Rico.”

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