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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

MSU gets a taste of Latin America

Students+who+enjoyed+A+Taste+of+Latin+America+took+to+the+dance+floor+for+some+fun.
Samuel Hughes | The Reflector

Students who enjoyed A Taste of Latin America took to the dance floor for some fun.

Colors, flavors and aromas of Latin America filled the Mississippi State University Bost Extension Center Auditorium during “A Taste of Latin America” Friday night.
Hosted by the Latino Student Association, “A Taste of Latin America” showcased various foods and cultures of Latin America in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month. Nine different teams presented traditional foods from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Honduras and the Dominican Republic free of charge.
Colorful, culturally decorated food booths lined the walls of the auditorium. Team members smiled as they named different dishes, their country’s flag hanging behind them. Here was a pupusa, a Salvadorian flatbread topped with pickled vegetables and a tomato sauce. Over there was Dominican locrio de pollo  a chicken and rice dish  and Mexican barbacoa.
Gabriel Alcantara, a graduate student in chemistry, arrived at MSU eight months ago to gain access to an education that was not available in his native Venezuela. He met new friends, tried new foods and heard varieties of Spanish he had never heard before.
“It was amazing. The event was super good — I feel like somehow at home in my country, and the fact that I met a lot of friends from other countries, but there are Latino friends so I can speak Spanish. I can use my first language,” Alcantara said. 
Once people finished eating, they danced to popular Latin American music. The room darkened, and laughing faces were illuminated by strobes of red, green and blue.
Agustin Ascencio, president of LSA and a senior biological sciences major, stepped out of the auditorium, the percussion of Latino pop music flaring. He said that last year, they brought 60 chairs. This year, they brought 120.
“And we still ran out. I think it was really great to know we ran out of food and everybody’s enjoying dancing. I just got out of the circle and I’m tired right now,” Ascensio laughed.
Cristhian Quiñones, marketing chair of LSA and a junior marketing major, was a member of the Columbian team. Dressed in a poncho and sombrero, he described Columbian buñuelos  cheese balls — and Venezuelan polvorosas, a type of sugar cookie. Quinones said recent efforts to expand LSA’s outreach have greatly expanded the association.
“The first semester we would always get like 40 students, and then after that, it would drop to like 20,” Quiñones said. ”But then this year, our first meeting had 52 students, and then at the next one, instead of dropping, it went up to 57 – and then there were some people that didn’t have an ID, so it was like 60.”
Madeline Nelson, a senior anthropology major, enjoyed the Brazilian donut hole. She joined LSA to learn more about Latin American culture.
“They do a really good job of putting themselves out there and getting people to know about the cultures – Latin American culture, South American culture. They love the people in the club. And they’re open to anybody,” Nelson said. “Like I’m not Hispanic, but I go and they always welcome me.”
Aunine Livingston, a sophomore software engineering major, enjoyed the plantains, a childhood favorite of his growing up in a multicultural neighborhood in the south side of Chicago. He said organizations like LSA provide cultural connections and a community that is essential for minority groups.
“You know, it’s like it’s such a vital thing about existing – to know that you’re not alone, to acknowledge yourself, be empathetic to yourself to give yourself that room, that space to exist. It’s everything to me,” Livingston said.
Livingston said student organizations within the MSU Holmes Cultural Diversity Center are working hard to make campus more inclusive and that “A Taste of Latin America” is an event significant to the large freshman class.
“This does give them an introduction not only to campus but to a world that they can be a part of,” Livingston said.
LSA is holding “Noche De Baile,” a night to learn different Hispanic cultural dances, 6 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Bost Extension Center Auditorium.
Prospective members can visit the Latino Student Association website on Cowbell Connect or the organization’s Instagram.

About the Contributor
Samuel Hughes, News Editor
Samuel Hughes is a senior double-majoring in communication and Spanish from Biloxi, Mississippi. He currently serves as the News Editor. [email protected]
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MSU gets a taste of Latin America