LatiNU brings students closer with Latin culture

Sarah Eberspacher

During the course of Friday night, the roughly 300 students and community members who attended the night’s Festival LatiNU swayed to the rhythmic beats of Latin music and navigated from table to table of steaming rice, beans and guacamole.”People dance until they get tired or until the band quits,” said Alianza President Arianna Hermosillo of the event, held in the Louis Room at Norris University Center on Friday evening.Hermosillo said LatiNU has been an annual kickoff event for NU’s Hispanic Heritage Month longer than she has been at NU.”As the Hispanic population in America has risen in past years and looks to continue to rise, I think it’s important to host events that showcase our heritage and culture and allow everyone to learn more,” the Medill senior said.Attendees were treated to the sounds of Yorumba, an orchestra known for its musical variety in playing everything from meringue to salsa and Latin jazz. Three other musical acts that performed during the event included Nahui Ollin, a traditional Aztec dance group; Mezcla, an NU performing arts group; and Planeta Azul Samba Band, a Brazilian band with Samba dancers.”We can’t include all types of Hispanic and Latin culture and music, but we’re trying to incorporate a variety,” said Veronica Morales, co-vice president of Alianza.Planning for the event began Spring Quarter of last year, the Communication junior said.”We have to begin early in order to make sure we have the entertainment lined up, the decorations, the food – it’s a lot of planning and a lot of time,” she said.<IMG SRC=””><small>Timi Chu</small> Free food is always a draw for college students, and this event was no exception, said Kaleb Tsang.”I came after I heard about this from a friend,” the McCormick sophomore said. “It’s great – here you can eat all the guacamole you want – for free!”He decided to stay because of the atmosphere and entertainment, he said.”The entertainment is really good, and I didn’t even know about this before,” he said. “If I hear about it in time next year, I’ll definitely come back.”After studying abroad in Chile, Danielle McLean said she wants to continue to immerse herself in Hispanic culture. The SESP senior said it was a fun event to share with other people, despite the crowded room.”I’m a senior but I’d never actually been to this event, and it’s so good,” she said. “It is crowded, though. It’s definitely a bigger turnout than I was expecting. “Though Hermosillo said she expected a large turnout after last year’s “explosion in attendance,” where about 600 people attended, she thought the seating arrangement could have gone more smoothly.Christian Yanez, director of Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs, agreed and added that using fewer tables and more chairs to optimize space would be a consideration for next year’s event. Overall, though, he said he was pleased with the results.”It is programs and events like this that really make me proud of our Northwestern and Evanston community,” he said. “We come together, we learn more about each other and we build new friendships that will hopefully last throughout our time here at NU.” [email protected]