Latino and Hispanic organizations, faculty and students gathered at the Montclair State University Student Center quad to celebrate the second annual Hispanic Heritage Month Block Party on Wednesday, October 12.
At the event, there was food, music, painting and games such as dominoes. The block party was about having fun together while celebrating the Hispanic community.
The block party started with a few words from students and faculty of distinct Hispanic organizations on campus.
Jazmin Mora-Amaya, a junior business administration major and vice president of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), shared a few words with the attendees.
“Being part of LASO, I love seeing all this representation whether you are Latino, whether you are not Latino, being Latino means we are [a] familia,” Mora-Amaya said. “I love the community [here today], we are here to have a good time, to dance, to eat good comida [food] because Latino comida is the best comida. Thank you everyone for being here at the second annual Hispanic Block Party!”
Marco Cordova, director of summer programs in the Office for Hispanic Initiatives who also helped to organize the block party, shared his thoughts on the celebration.
“Being a Hispanic serving institution, it is important for us to show that we care about our Latino students and show that we know the importance of events [like this] going on,” Cordova said. “It’s [also] nice to see all of us out here, different faces, different people, coming together and having that sense of community.”
Another aspect of the block party was the different tables that were set up representing distinct Latino/Hispanic organizations on campus. It helped introduce these organizations to both Hispanic and non-Hispanic students.
Sofia Gamez, a freshman nursing major, shared why she decided to attend the event and how significant cultural representation is in a campus setting.
“Being Hispanic and a freshman, I wanted to go to a school where I can see people like me and I feel like this is a good opportunity to meet those kinds of people and just celebrate our culture,” Gamez said. “I like it, I love the food and the music and just [meeting] new people that are from different nationalities but Hispanic as well.”
While students enjoyed their food and played games, DJ Brandon Leon kept the event entertained and lively as he played music warming the crowd up for the live band.
Eventually, the Afro-Caribbean Ensemble from the John J. Cali School of Music performed. The band, made up of students on campus, was started by student and percussionist in the ensemble Vic Ortiz.
Students and faculty began dancing along with the music of the band. Isabel Adorno, lead singer and senior music education major, along with pianist Lornaa Morales, a music therapy major, taught the audience an easy dance routine and managed to get a large group of people to dance together. They played classic songs such as “Oye Como Va” by Santana.
Adorno also shared a few thoughts on the performance.
“It was thrilling to be able to sing my people’s music on campus,” Adorno said. “Events like this are important because as the Latin community we are often pushed to the side, but this gives us an [opportunity to be] not only accepted but appreciated, that the foundation that people set before us is accepted and respected.”