LSA’s Sabor Latino dinner performances address issues of immigration policy

During the Latino Student Association’s annual Sabor dinner, they highlighted the theme “Behind Bars.”  Throughout the evening, participants also enjoyed traditional food, music and dancing. (Marianna Sheedy/Staff Photographer)

Geneseo’s Latino Student Association hosted this year’s Sabor Latino dinner with the theme of “Behind Bars,” speaking on the complexities of border politics and immigrant rights. 

Everyone came to the event excited to experience a break from their hectic lives and to feel as if they were home again for an evening of music, dancing and food. The dim lighting and ornaments that decorated the tables offered a more serene mood to the ambience. The red bull—along with coins and a money bag that contrasted with the flowers—foreshadowed what was to come in the play.

LSA president and international relations major senior Samuel Aviles came up and introduced his fellow e-board members and gave the audience some context about this year’s theme.

“Legal or illegal, guilty or innocent, white or black, there are complex stories behind each label and we want to give a performance like that today,” Aviles said.

A member of the e-board, political science major sophomore Anahi Cortes performed a deeply personal and moving poem about her experience of having a parent being deported. 

After Cortes’ performance, Aviles invited the audience to eat a variety of Latin food, from beans and rice to empanadas and pork chops.

“It feels like home: the music, the atmosphere, the people, the food. It feels really homey,” biology major freshman Ashley German said.

With everyone satiated, the play began. The theme, “Behind Bars,” was apparent when the play began with two women telling their stories as they applied for parole.

The recent detainment of a family on Geneseo’s campus also reinforced the need to speak on these important yet difficult subjects, such as deportation, gang violence and drug trafficking. 

In each scene, flashbacks informed the audience of the moving stories of each person’s unique struggle with immigration and border issues, all the while incorporating some laughs as well as some dancing. 

From salsa to bachata to merengue, the choreographer—freshman biology Eduniz Mendez—infused the mood of each scene to the dances performed. 

As the play went on, there were moments of laughter and reflection. There were even some tears shed. Each theme that was introduced for every person’s story allowed the audience to see different perspectives of this narrative.

Then, a montage of bloopers and funny moments from LSA’s preparation of this year’s Sabor Latino followed a short intermission. In those moments, the love and support they all have for each other shined through. 

The play continued afterward, introducing new characters—all who came together in the end. A shocking twist of events, however, brought the ending of the play together. After heaps of applause, the whole cast and crew came up for the curtain call while music played and people hugged.

“It was funny how it started. One of our e-board members had a dream that was about these characters telling their stories behind bars,” sociology and musical theater double major sophomore Emilie Porter said. “Over the winter break I wrote it; there are a lot of stereotypes in the play, but it was something that was realistic in our society.”

LSA’s dinner brought together members of the Geneseo community, from faculty to students to visiting potential students through a night of food, music and laughter.