Alianza’s Festival LatiNU returns after two and a half years


Photo courtesy of Alianza

Many students gather at Alianza’s Fuego event in April. Festival LatiNU is returning for the first time since fall 2019 on Friday.

Sterling Kossuth Ortiz, Senior Staffer

At the beginning of the academic year, Weinberg sophomore Andrés Polanco Molina held no positions within Alianza. But he said he had a deep passion for expanding the Latine community at Northwestern.

Less than a month away from Finals Week, Polanco Molina is now Alianza’s internal president. He helped plan the organization’s Festival LatiNU, which will be held Friday. The event is the group’s first since fall 2019. Polanco Molina said he wants to make the most of this moment to reintroduce the festival to the NU community.

“Festival is a celebration of Latino communities,” Polanco Molina said. “And this time, at the end of the year, it’s like a big look back on everything that we accomplished, everything that each of us have accomplished together.”

Another major organizer for the event was Weinberg sophomore Leslye Molina, the current co-president and treasurer of Alianza and the incoming external president. 

Since summer 2021, Molina has helped manage the finances and catering for the event. She said food served at the festival will include salchipapas, pupusas and papas rellenas, along with tres leches cake for dessert and horchata and agua frescas for drinks.

“We want to celebrate all the other cultures of Latin America and Festival LatiNU by having a diverse set of food,” Molina said. “I also want people to know it’s not just exclusive to Latinos on campus, literally anyone can come to the festival.”

Guest performances will include Ballet Folklórico México de Northwestern and Mariachi Northwestern. Both groups are mainstays in the Latine culture at NU and have had their own paths to reemerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communication senior Mia Isabel Dominguez Hodges, the current Mariachi president, said she has been thrilled to see Mariachi reemerge as a critical part of the Latine ecosystem.

“We were starting, essentially, from scratch as an organization this year, and I’m really, really proud of how far we’ve come,” Hodges said. “The reach we’ve had has been really incredible. And after our first performance, the Blackout show, we had people express interest in joining us.” 

According to Hodges, Mariachi spent this spring planning gigs on campus with other student groups, instead of going to Chicago and performing for private companies and organizations. This change was an adjustment for the musical group, which grew in both membership and audience this quarter.

As a soon-to-be alum of Mariachi, Hodges said she has mixed thoughts on graduating and leaving her community to enter adult life. 

“I have friends who are in Mariachi next year, so I will come back for them and I will be supporting them like a little proud mother records their kids,” Hodges said.

Polanco Molina said he wants this event to be big on its own terms and continue momentum into the next school year. After a year of rare stability for the Latine student group, he said, he wants to work with the executive board and NU students to make Alianza into its highest form.

“This is the beginning of a new era of Alianza, one that hopefully is less affected by COVID and life under quarantine,” Polanco Molina said. “Obviously, changes happen all at once, but all of us want to change to become better.”

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