By Martha Ugwu
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Sept. 26 – The Center for Latino Arts and Culture hosted a Casa Abierta/Open House at its facility on Thursday, in which guests were treated to Latin American and Caribbean food and an outdoor concert featuring performances from Radio Jarocho and Cumbiamba eNeYe.
The event also provided guests with a chance to explore the Latino and Multicultural resource fair, meet the staff of the CLAC, and learn about its fall events.
The purpose of this event was to showcase the vibrant and flourishing presence of the Latino community at Rutgers University, welcome students of Latin heritage to campus, and invite them to learn about the programs and services that the center has to offer.
The CLAC has a history at Rutgers University dating back to 1992, when it was established by a committee of Latino faculty, staff, and students. Today, the CLAC continues to stay true to its mission statement, which is to “research, document, interpret and promote Latino/a, Hispanic, Caribbean, and Latin American arts and culture.”
“We’re a part of Student Affairs and we help students find the resources they need, develop opportunities for engagement, because engagement really builds success for our students, and address individual issues, everything from financial aid to housing to academic issues and the like. ” – Dr. Carlos Fernandez, director of the CLAC.
Some of the affiliate student organizations that were represented at the Latino and Multicultural resource fair included the Latino Student Council, Latin American Student Organization, Sociedad Estudiantil Dominicana, Rutgers Union Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, and many more.
Lambda Sigma Upsilon Fraternity Inc., Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority Inc., and Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Inc. were among the latin greek organizations that were also represented at the fair.
“There are so many moments that make what we do worth it. As student leaders, we spend so much time meeting, planning, strategizing, coming together, designing, just doing all these things that is coming from within. Nobody is putting pressure on us externally to do this, nobody’s saying ‘It’s expected of you.’No, we’re the leaders of our community because we want to. We want to create these programs because we want to. We want our people to get that awareness.” – Ivanok Tavarez, student worker at the CLAC, co-chair of the Latino Student Council, and brother of Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc.
One organization to highlight is the Sociedad Estudiantil Dominicana, which was founded in 1992. The purpose of the organization is to “promote, preserve, and advance the Dominican and Latin culture amongst the Rutgers community.” RUSED hosts several events on campus, including one its main events, Latin Gala, which helps raise money to provide food to people in need in the Dominican Republic. To learn more about this about this organization and find out how to get involved, their contact information can be found here.
Radio Jarocho performed a sample of son jarocho music, which originated from Veracruz, Mexico. This traditional genre of music has influences from Spanish, Afro-Caribbean, and Mexican cultures. Son jarocho is most likely to be played at a fandango, which is a celebration where people come together as a community to sing and dance. The centerpiece of this kind of celebration is the tarima, a large wooden platform that people can dance on.
La Cumbiamba eNeYe is a New York based musical ensemble known for performing traditional styles of Colombian music, including gaita, puya, cumbia, and mapale. They perform music from both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Colombia using instruments from the African Diaspora. A sample of their music can be viewed below.
Following the Casa Abierta, the CLAC has a long lineup of events happening throughout the semester. One example is the exhibition of photographs titled Walking about Old San Juan by Celestino Martinez-Lindín, who settled in Puerto Rico after leaving his homeland of Cuba. The series of photographs showcase Martinez-Lindín’s “fondness for the vernacular architecture and changing landscape of Puerto Rico’s capital city San Juan.” It is available for viewing starting September 22 through December 12.
Another event, Dividing Hispaniola, features guest speaker Edward Paulino, the author of Dividing Hispaniola: the Dominican Republic’s Border with Haiti, (1930-1961). Paulino is an assistant professor of global history at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and co-founder of Border of Lights, an organization that commemorates the anniversary of the 1937 genocidal Haitian massacre and promotes solidarity between Haitians and Dominicans.
In addition to the previously mentioned events, the CLAC will also be hosting a two-day Afro-Latino Festival that focuses on the musical and dancing styles of the African diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean. This event will consist of a concert that features performances from Cimarrones, Cumbiamba eNeYe, and Radio Jarocho followed by a workshop that will focus on the musical, poetic, and choreographic aspects of Afro-Latino traditional sounds.
To get up-to-date information on the programs hosted by the CLAC, visit their website: clac.rutgers.edu.