Latin Fest 2017: Gratitude and community


Story by Alyssa Noch, Reporter
Photo courtesy of Alyssa Noch

Latin Fest, sponsored by the Latin@ Student Association and Aquinas Programming Board, returned. This was a momentous event with it being President Juan Olivarez’s last Latin Fest as Aquinas College’s President.

This annual fun, cultural event took place on Sunday, March 19 in the Wege Ballroom from six to eight p.m. The food, provided by Xav’s Caterting, originated from a variety of Spanish speaking countries. The speaker this year was Elizabeth Acevedo.


President Olivarez with gift from L@SA

L@SA made sure to send President Olivarez off with many thanks for his service as well as for being a person of Latin heritage to look up to. President Olivarez succeeded at his role on campus and is an inspiration to all; we will miss him.

Towards the end of enjoying our meals, time was taken to highlight the sanctuary campus initiative. As part of the initiative, Aquinas Senior Patricia Schlutt is seeking students to share anonymous stories about immigrant families, undocumented or documented. A story submitted for this project was read at Latin Fest.

The stories, submitted anonymously, come from people who are on-campus or are related to someone on-campus in some way. All stories will be read at an event later this year, and will be read by students unrelated to the story. At Latin Fest, L@SA member Nora Botello read the narrative. She has been a part of L@SA since her freshman year.

For anyone interested in possibly writing one of these stories, or having a friend or family member do so, Schlutt can be contacted at Remember, these are anonymous and the stories can be any length necessary to tell the story. Those behind the initiative want student voices to be heard.

Speaking of those being heard, poet and writer Elizabeth Acevedo took the stage as guest speaker. AQPB brought Acevedo to Latin Fest to speak on the experiences of the Latin@ community; she identifies as an Afro-Latina. Being adept at poetry slams, Acevedo’s performance was hard not to be moved. She opened her poetry reading strong, coming out loud and proud, which made the experience all the more enjoyable.

Her audience interaction was stellar. She taught the audience different ways to respond to her powerful performance which ranged from snaps to a hardy “Wepa!” when we appreciated something in her work. The atmosphere she created through this was charged with something; she brought a strong sense of community into our school’s ballroom.

Acevedo aims to create a space where things can be shared safely. This allows for connections to be made, helping everyone understand a bit more about each other — she succeeded in doing so. 

At this last Latin Fest for President Olivarez, Acevedo’s use of storytelling and poetry to bring our community closer was the perfect choice of a send off speaker.

We will miss you, President Olivarez.

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