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ISSUE 121 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/2/2008

Viva celebrates culture

By Elizabeth Mitchell
Associate Editor

Friday, May 2, 2008

Beginning on April 22, St. Olaf students groups ¡Presente!, Diversity Celebrations Committee (DCC), and Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach (MACO), have collaborated to sponsor Viva La Raza: La Union Hace La Fuerza, a series of events over two weeks that celebrate Latin culture. Viva La Raza, which is often translated into either "Long Live the Race" or "Long Live the People," is a common phrase used to promote awareness and acceptance of Latin culture and issues.

Among the events planned were the kick-off event, which featured folk dance by Los Alegres Bailadores. The events that followed included a dance held in the Pause last Saturday night; spoken word poetry by Twin Cities troupe Palabristas on Tuesday, April 29; A Day Without English on May 1, when participants will either speak a different language than English or remain silent all day;and Strangers Among Us, a discussion at the Diversity Awareness House on May 2.

Planners of Viva la Raza will cap the week with the film, "The Zapatistas" on May 4. All of the events are open to the entire St. Olaf community. ¡Presente! president Laura Guzman, '10, said, "I think we have created two weeks of entertaining and educational events. I am impressed with the variety of events we were able to plan. From dances to spoken word to discussion nights, there really is something for everybody to enjoy."

When asked about her hopes for the event, Guzman expressed hope that students can "learn what these weeks mean to ¡Presente! members and the larger community."

Viva La Raza, she said, is "about celebrating the activists and cultural ambassadors who advocate for the Latino community and seek to end oppression and injustice. We approach every event with the hopes of expanding cultural literacy in an engaging way."

Furthermore, Guzman and members of ¡Presente! hope that the events "can open the community's hearts and minds to the significant issues of the Latino community in order to strengthen understanding and foster dialogue." So far, Viva La Raza's events have had a good turn-out, which pleases organizers. Polina Bugayev '10 said that she enjoyed the dance on Saturday night.

"It wasn't your typical dance music, and they had some good local artists as well," she said. Bugayev also expressed some interest in attending other events later in the series.

Guzman said of event attendance, "We hope everybody on campus can attend at least one event."

Those interested in finding out more about the events planned for the rest of Viva La Raza can visit the office of Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach, call them at 507-786-3060, or pick up a schedule of events in the hallway across from the MACO office.

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