By Billo Gatzonis
Five Towns College was bursting with Latin culture at the first-ever Latin Night event held on October 8th. The Downbeat Café was transformed into a happening fiesta with colorful decorations representing Hispanic culture as well as what most people looked forward to, the delicious and authentic Hispanic food! Latin Night was a meaningful celebration honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month. Attendees enjoyed playing games as well as watched Latin performers sing, recite poetry, and dance.
Latino music streamed throughout the Downbeat Café as people entered the event and grabbed tasty appetizers. As people took their seats, event hosts Joseph Tejada and Aurelyn Espinal welcomed everyone. Both Tejada and Espinal were very honored to be chosen as the hosts of the first event celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month on campus.
Tejada described why he loves being a part of this event, “We get to showcase not only our icons but also our culture, our music, our food, our taste for life. Having this honor to go up there and host a nice show, to show off my culture and a little bit of what we’re about it means a lot to me.”
Espinal further talked about the meaning of the gathering, “I love the sense of unity. I love the fact that everybody comes together, and it feels like one big family. It feels like we’re in a living room, eating dinner, and everybody is listening to music and having a good time.”
Throughout the event, many games were played to test the audience’s knowledge of latin culture. Powerful poetry was recited, and of course, there were amazing musical performances by Five Town’s talented students.
Obasi Jackson, a senior at Five Towns College, shared why this performance meant so much to him, “My father is Spanish. He’s from Panama, and I haven’t really had the opportunity to be a part of that. So, by Professor Ali bringing me out to perform gave me a taste of home, allowing me to encourage and embrace my Latino side.”
Even alumnus, Taliek Hill, came back to campus to perform an original song he created for the event. The message he spread was, “Don’t let anyone silence your voice. You be you and whatever it is that you stand for, your culture, you be loud with it.”
The room was filled with the aroma from all of the food. There were many types of authentic cuisine served, such as maduro, empanadas, and mofongo. Everybody’s stomachs were definitely filled by the end of the evening. FTC Student, Kaalon Brown, was a big fan of the variety, “I saw some food that I never encountered, which is a good thing. I was intrigued to taste it, and I was surprised. It was really good!”
At the end of the night, everyone gathered around the stage to knock down the taco Piñata filled with candy. Students tried to hit the piñata as hard as they could and jumped straight to the floor once the candy fell from the piñata.
FTC Freshman, Jazel Williams, enjoyed this event, “Personally, I’m not Spanish, but I thought it was very versatile. I learned a couple of things, and it was actually fun. I’m not familiar with events like this, so it was a good experience.”
Latin Night was a success! The Diversity Club, ALAS, and Professor Malisa Ali truly brought the Hispanic culture to the Five Towns College community.