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ASI brings CPP twist to traditional Mexican party game

By Alexander Osornio, May 11, 2021

ASI BEAT collaborated with Cal Poly Pomona’s cultural centers to spotlight Mexican traditions with Lotería Night on April 30, inviting both new and old players to a centuries-old traditional game revolving around CPP themes.

To preserve the cultural importance of lotería, ASI BEAT partnered with campus organizations associated with Chicanx and Latinx cultures, including César E. Chávez Center for Higher Education, Hermanas Unidas and Mariachi Los Broncos.

Before the pause of in-person instruction at CPP, the Games Room hosted numerous sessions of the party game, lotería, using traditional cards and boards.

Event organizer and first-year post-baccalaureate credential student Dejah Parker said the events team sought to create a version of the game that could appeal to both experienced and novice players “in a new way that includes aspects of CPP that they’re familiar with.”

The illustrations of the lotería cards were designed with items, locations and people easily recognizable by the campus community. (Courtesy of ASI BEAT)

This goal was achieved by creating a version of lotería using cards inspired by CPP landmarks, events and icons that students normally saw every day on campus. These included representations of the CLA building, the library escalators, President Soraya M. Coley, Billy Bronco, the Poly Trolley, parking passes and waitlist icons that students see during registration.

ASI’s intention behind these design choices was to make the game more familiar to new players by using familiar imagery. Parker described the process of selecting the card designs as “trying to incorporate things that people see every day on campus but making it a way to connect everyone and have school spirit.”

Lotería, which translates to “lottery” in Spanish, is a bingo-style game where players try to fill spaces on their boards. However, instead of using numbers and letters to fill designated spaces on boards, lotería uses cards with distinct images of people, objects and iconography.

One player is selected to be the “cantor,” Spanish for “caller,” whose job is to shuffle the deck of cards, pick them out one by one while reading the name and showing the image of the card to the other players. If a player has the matching picture on their board, they fill the spot using a marker in replacement of the traditional pinto beans or small rocks.

The game maintained a strong presence in the Mexican culture during social gatherings, fairs and celebrations, dating back to the late 1700s.

According to Parker, the event prioritized ensuring that the representation and cultural significance of lotería was not lost due to the untraditional, campus-related themes.

“We don’t want to speak for that culture or take anything away from it,” Parker said.

Representatives from the participating cultural centers served as the callers for the game and were given ample opportunity to promote themselves while helping students feel more involved and represented.

This included a streamed virtual performance from Mariachi Los Broncos.

Jessie Vallejo, an assistant professor of ethnomusicology and director of Mariachi Los Broncos, was glad that the ensemble was able to perform for this event and help connect students culturally despite physical boundaries.

Similarly, Brenda Brito, a third-year music student and social media coordinator at the César E. Chávez Center, felt the event was a great way to get students involved with their culture while also having fun.

“Every day that we’re out here as cultural centers and organizations … we’re guaranteeing that our culture is represented on campus,” Brito said. “We’re living out the dreams of people that fought for this to be happening. I feel like back then, Lotería Night wouldn’t have been a thing.”

To learn more about the cultural centers that participated in this event, visit the myBar page for César E. Chávez Center and the Instagram pages for Hermanas Unidas and mariachi ensembles.

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