Get ready for pastelitos, pageantry and “Pie-a-Greek” in a three-day display of Latin culture during this year’s Latin Weekend. The event, which will run from Friday, April 27 to Sunday, April 29, is a collaborative celebration of Latin culture coordinated by the Latin American Student Union (LASU), Quimbamba Latin Dance Team and the Latino Greek Council (LGC).
Kicking off the weekend is LASU’s pageant, Nuestra Belleza y Nuestro Galan Latinx Pageant. The event is modeled after the national “Nuestra Belleza Latina” pageant that aired on Spanish-language channel Univision, but LASU’s pageant includes male contestants as well. This year, the competition will feature seven contestants — four women and three men. Of the contestants, one male student and one female student will be chosen as the winners. Since Nuestra Belleza y Nuestro Galan Latinx is a scholarship pageant, the winners will each receive a money prize.
Kalissa Sawyer, the president of LASU, vice president of SHADES and a senior majoring in human development, said that LASU decides to host a pageant every year not only to showcase Latin American culture, but also to serve as an educational experience.
“We do it in order to engage and celebrate our community and our various Latin American backgrounds,” Sawyer said. “We also host it in order to educate our community on issues that are relevant to the countries being represented.”
Following Friday’s pageant, Quimbamba will continue the celebration of Latin culture through El Polvorín Latin Festival. Quimbamba has invited dance teams from universities across New York state to compete in a Latin dance competition at BU. This year’s competition will consist of six teams from schools including the University at Buffalo, SUNY New Paltz and University at Albany performing largely Latin-based dance styles like merengue, bachata and salsa. Though Quimbamba will be performing, the team is not competing in the competition.
During the intermission, Latin food will be served and the competition’s host will play interactive games with the audience. Last year, the host pulled people from the audience to conduct their own dance competition among attendees.
Javier Suarez, the public relations chair of Quimbamba and a senior majoring in art and design, said that El Polvorín has become a unifying experience not only among Latin American communities on campus, but also among all of Binghamton University’s multicultural organizations.
“This is my second Polvorín, but every time I hear about it from alumni and all, it’s a very happy moment where all types of organizations like Greek life, different cultural organizations … all of them come along and they support us, as we support them with their events,” Suarez said. “It’s like a bonding event for all the different organizations on campus.”
Rounding out the weekend will be the LGC’s Field Day on Sunday. The LGC, composed of various Latin Greek organizations, will facilitate a number of games and activities, such as relay races, kickball, tug-of-war and “Pie-a-Greek.” Students can enjoy the festivities while dancing along to Spanish music and enjoying snacks, pizza and refreshments.
Nathaniel Perez, secretary of LGC, a member of Lambda Upsilon Lambda and a junior majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, said the Field Day is meant to allow attendees to unwind.
“The purpose of this event is to create an open environment that allows for stress relief as well as fun with each others’ peers,” Perez wrote in an email. “We hope to end Latin Weekend on a high spirited note and will like for as many students to come out and have fun.”
For Sawyer, Latin Weekend serves as a way to keep in touch with her culture and garner a sense of community within the Latin American population among BU’s white-dominated student body.
“It’s important to have because within a [predominantly white institution], we often feel isolated, and being able to engage and celebrate who we are is integral to our feeling of belonging,” Sawyer said.
Latin Weekend will take place from Friday, April 27 to Sunday, April 29. LASU’s Nuestra Belleza y Nuestro Galan Latinx Pageant will be held in the Mandela Room in the University Union on Friday at 7 p.m., Quimbamba’s El Polvorín Latin Festival will be held on Saturday on the Peace Quad at noon and LGC’s Field Day will be held on the Peace Quad on Sunday at 2 p.m.. All the events are free to BU students.