“Showcasing the similarities of our cultures brings us together as a stronger Latin American group at Brandeis IBS,” said event host Jaime Vergara MBA ’12. “It also gives the chance for people that do not know Latin America, to have a glimpse of what we are, who we are, and what we all are so proud to represent.”
Bruce Magid, Dean of Brandeis IBS and the Martin and Ahuva Gross Chair in Financial Markets and Institutions, opened the event by commenting on the exuberance and diversity of Latin culture on campus. He underscored the importance of demonstrating Latin American diversity by offering a surprise quiz question for the audience: “How many languages are spoken in Latin America?” While many students began to accurately shout out answers and even identified exact regions for each language, others stopped at English and Spanish. Dean Magid then announced that the evening would be part of a continued cultural education for students, and with a flourish of Spanish, started the festivities.
After last year’s popular salsa-dancing segment, the Latin Club started 2012’s event with performances by the undergraduate salsa team, the Brandeis Salseros. Latin club president Jaime Saleta Santamaria MBA ’13 then led students through a brief salsa lesson, after which a few brave souls volunteered to compete in a salsa contest.
A game of Latin-themed “Jeopardy” followed, with lively discussion about topics like geography, business and economics. As the crowd grew increasingly restless in the face of the strong smells of food, Saleta patiently explained that in Latin culture, one must exert all of one’s energy before eating.
After a competitive game of musical chairs (“La Silla”), students were rewarded with a feast that included flautas (small Mexican tortillas), aji de gallina (Peruvian chili pepper shredded chicken) and papa a la huancaína (Peruvian potato salad in a spicy cream sauce). Also participating this year was the dance troupe Capoeira Brasil Boston, who performed “Capoeira,” a Brazilian cultural expression composed of acrobatic and martial arts movements.
“Something that really made me happy was to see all these Latin students working together and being proud of their countries,” said Saleta. “It was great to see all the Latin flags in one place and watch the Latin students work together to show the best of their Latin heritage.”