Carnaval night exposes college to Latin American heritage

Latino Student Association members (pictured above) enjoying “La Mezcla: Carnaval” on Saturday Nov. 11. The event featured both traditional food, catered by D’Mangu Restaurant, and entertainment. (Izzy Graziano/knights’ life editor)

The Interfaith Center rang with music, dancing and laughter while the Latino Student Association hosted their annual “La Mezcla: Carnaval.” Students and faculty came to the sold-out event to celebrate Hispanic culture. 

The room was brightly decorated with carnaval masks; beads were placed on tables for people to wear and student photographers were present to take pictures of groups. One of the features of the event, held on Saturday Nov. 11, was a best-dressed contest—people came dressed up in their most festive carnaval attire, wearing bright florals and colorful jewelry and often accessorizing with bejeweled makeup. 

There was also a photo booth in front of a tapestry—painted with a brightly colored bird and the words “La Mezcla: Carnaval”—where many students had the photographers take pictures of them.

The event was catered by D’Mangu, a Dominican restaurant located in Rochester. The goal of choosing Dominican food was to steer away from stereotypical Hispanic cuisine and unearth the much broader culture of Latin America to attendees.

“I hope they take away that there’s different types of food. When people think of Hispanic food, they think of tacos, they think of common stereotypes,” LSA president senior Michelle Soria said. “I want people to branch out and experience different food.” 

Soria has been on the LSA e-board since her freshman year. She hopes that the Carnaval will expose people to the club and get them to attend meetings. 

“[LSA] became my family,” Soria said. “I know that our school advertises a lot of diversity, but there’s very limited numbers at the end of the day; it provides a place for everyone to explore any place, any issue that’s going on.” 

Echoing this sentiment was psychology major freshman Elena Camilo.

“Coming from a place where there weren’t a lot of Latinos, and coming here where there aren’t a lot of Latinos,” Camilo said, “I wanted to be part of something where I could share my culture and my experiences.”

Students organized and ran the event all by themselves.

“I sit and listen to the plan. The students really do all of the work … it is completely student run, from idea to implementation,” Associate Director for Student Life and advisor for the Latino Student Association Tiffany Brodner said. “I hope for them to have some fun, sharing and educating about their culture.”

After eating, students danced to a wide variety of Hispanic music. 

“For the music, if you go to any frat house, any party, that’s not what they experience, and some people here want to dance, want to participate more in our events,” Soria said. “We’re always hoping to teach people how to dance with us.”

LSA succeeded in putting on a fun and informative event where people could relax and enjoy Hispanic culture. Attendees expressed that they already could not wait until the next “La Mezcla: Carnaval.”