Adrian Gonzalez / Hilltop Views
As upbeat cumbias filled the air, the bright blue sky was painted with colorful, festive flags. The Multicultural Food Fair, assembled by the Latino Student Leadership Organization (LSLO) and Equity and Justice Council (EJC), aimed to represent the Latinx population of St. Edward’s with a welcoming atmosphere, accepting students of all Hispanic backgrounds.
With authentic Latinx merchandise available from local vendors and plenty of multicultural foods to go around, the organization was pleased with the results of the fair and student turnout.
The fair was the product of several months of planning. Despite the challenges in coordinating it, LSLO officer Caitlin Villalobos believes that her passion for her cultural identity made the process worth it.
“To see people out here and enjoying the food means a lot. I’m Salvadorian and I take that to heart. It’s kind of a small country that’s underrepresented here, so that desire to teach people something different… that’s what made me want to do this,” Villalobos said. “It’s a lot of just wanting to show people and expose them to this different culture.”
Lionel Lopez, Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion, said that working with LSLO was excellent and admires their work ethic.
“[LSLO] has an amazing executive board that are not just well-versed in the cultural experiences of Latinx students, but their ability to really connect with the campus and its mission,” Lopez said. “They are intent on making sure that there is a sense of family and bond here on the St. Edward’s campus. It makes planning extremely easy when their mission is so easily core-aligned with the mission of the university.”
Local vendors, like Garzig Design, Hermanitas Boutique and Eggy’s Crafts, enjoyed participating in the fair as it was a way to showcase their latino-inspired merchandise to students. Much of their personal cultural identification goes into their artistic creations.
“I just love this event because I feel like when I’m here, people really appreciate my work and they get my work,” said Angel Ortega of Garzig Design. “The inspiration for all my pieces is the music, the food, all of that. I look back and it just makes me so happy.”
Ranging from Chile to Colombia, dozens of students made their way to the fair where they were able try delicious dishes representative of several Latino countries. For Melissa Galvan, a student in attendance, the event made her feel culturally accepted and perfectly illustrated the vibrancy of the Hispanic culture.
“We don’t really have many events on campus like this and it’s really important to have more,” Galvan said. “Seeing all of these local artists… I think that’s awesome. You can do something fun that still goes with wanting to help your own roots, which I think is great.”
The event concluded with a live performance from the St. Edward’s Mariachi band, where they brought the crowd classic Latino bops to seal the atmosphere with authenticity.