Mexican folk music blared from the speakers as the Mexican Folklore women’s dancing group captivated the audience. Their purple, blue, green, and red dresses brightened the room as they twirled and smiled.
This performance was one of several that gave audience members an insight into the Latin American culture. The Hispanic Organization for the Promotion of Education (HOPE) and the Hilltopper Organization of Latin America Students (HOLAS) hosted the 4th annual A Taste of Latin America fundraiser at the UAW Banquet Hall on April 5.
Founding member of HOPE Addi Hernandez said the event was the best Taste of Latin America so far. “This year there were more performances than ever before,” Hernandez said.
The event was sold out, with over 200 tickets being sold.
HOLAS members served appetizers, the main course, and dessert. The appetizers represented an array of countries, just like those who participated in the performances.
Appetizers were served that were traditional dishes of El Salvador, Peru, Venezuela, and Mexico.
Following the appetizers members from the community displayed the traditional styles of Latin America with a fashion show. Women and children paraded down the aisles in long and flowing skirts, bright colors, and their country’s flag.
The entertainment never stopped. Two soloists sang songs from their home countries, poetry was read, and several traditional dances were performed. WKU professor Eric Rivera even gave salsa lessons to the audience.
The entertainment and cultural education was a side note to the cause for the event. HOPE and HOLAS are striving to promote higher education in the Latino community.
Following dinner, a video was shown featuring testimonies of three individuals and their experience with higher education.
The video illustrated the disparity with Latinos and higher education. The Latino population makes up 19 percent of the United States, while only 16 percent of Latinos hold a degree.
HOLAS president Jonny Garcia was featured in the video. Garcia urged aspiring students to persevere and utilize all of their resources in order to make their education possible.
The proceeds from the event will go to HOLAS and HOPE to create scholarships to WKU and SKYCTC for Latino Students.
Nashville freshman and HOLAS member Briant Vargas was one of the servers for the event.
Vargas said he joined HOLAS because it is the only group on campus for Hispanics.
“I wanted to be involved in the Hispanic community and I thought I’d fit in here,” Vargas said.
The grand finale for the evening was a performance by HOPE and HOLAS members. The dance was a combination of music and dances from different countries throughout Latin America. Featuring the bachata, merengue, cumbia, la marinera, and the salsa.
HOPE co president and entertainment chair, Julie Rivas choreographed the dance.
Rivas said this was the first year they combined the dances of several countries into one performance.
“I wanted to surprise them so people didn’t know what to expect,” Rivas said.