After weeks of hard work, the Spanish Language Association (SLA) club hosted its annual event, Noche de Cultura, on Friday, May 3 in Ursa Minor. 

Young men and women performed a traditional Mexican dance at Noche de Cultura on May 3 in Ursa Minor. (Courtesy of Xavier Robles)

The event opened its doors at 6 p.m. and moments after, the first performance of the night took place when Mariachi Broncos performed.

As family and friends were arriving, attendees were seated at different tables where they were able to taste different Hispanic foods.

Once the audience was seated, the president of the SLA club, second-year Spanish student Alexia Valenzuela, was on stage speaking to the audience about the club and the significance of the event. 

The event was divided into sections and every 15 minutes there was either a guest speaker, a performance, or a break where people could play games like Lotería, among others. 

One of the most notable performances was by guest speaker, poet and activist Cynthia Guardado, who currently teaches at Cal State Fullerton. 

During her time on stage she was able to share with the audience her poems about events that occurred to her throughout her early life. 

For her, Noche de Cultura is something that she sees as very important for Hispanic students because it’s one way in which students feel a sense of belonging in a place where they previously might not have. 

“One thing that happened to me is that I felt really alone, I felt really different at my four-year [college], and now as an educator, I understand how important it is to have that sense of belonging and it helps me get through it and I did have that core group in grad school and that really helped me survive grad school because it was harder in grad school to feel like you belong when you’re a Hispanic,” Guardado said. 

After Guardado was done speaking, the audience witnessed a zapateado dance, which is a typical dance that is practiced in Mexico.

 Following the dance, two women went on stage and sang to the audience well known songs from different parts of Latin America. 

To round up the night, members of the club were recognized with certificates on stage in front of the audience. 

One of the members was first-year Spanish student and recently elected president of the SLA club Luis Gaytan, who talked about how the contribution from all members of the club was key for the event to be successful. 

“I believe the event went very well, a lot of members participated prior to the event, gave a lot of ideas and overall contributed in a positive way that enhanced the way the event turned out, which in comparison to last year, it was a big step up,” Gaytan said.

Current president of the club Valenzuela also talked about how her favorite part of the event was being recognized, because usually the president doesn’t get recognized and for her to have experienced that was meaningful. 

“Usually the president isn’t supposed to get recognized because we recognize new and old members, so it was a surprise for me,” Valenzuela said. “Overall I am really happy I actually didn’t expect a lot of people to show up. Last year we only had around 30 people show up, and to [have] this turnout it was really good.” 

With the success in this year’s Noche de Cultura, the new board members of the SLA club will try and emulate the success for next year’s Noche de Cultura, according to Gaytan.

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