Trinity Employees and Students Celebrate Fiesta Latina

  Trinity Employees and Students Celebrate Fiesta Latina

Over 80 students, staff members, and professors attended the first-ever Fiesta Latina in Hamlin Hall to celebrate the Latino workforce on campus. Organized by students from Anne Gebelein’s “Spanish for Heritage Speakers” class, the event honored the many contributions Latinos make to all aspects of the College—from housekeeping and dining services to campus safety and the classroom. In a welcome address in both Spanish and English, the students expressed their appreciation, “From the preparation of our food to the maintenance of our dorms and academic building and directly through our education, the Trinity Latino community has a strong presence ... without you, Trinity would be devoid of a culturally enriching experience … and would cease to function efficiently.”

As the winter chill set in outside, the Trinity Samba Ensemble sizzled inside with its high-energy rhythms—entertaining the crowd of Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Salvadorians, Columbians, and more. With drinks donated by Chartwells and food provided by Hogar Crea, a social service organization in downtown Hartford, the attendees mingled and munched before the real fun broke out. Blindfolded, with stick in hand, Professor of Mathematics David Cruz-Uribe got lots of cheers as he valiantly attempted to break down the piñata that was strung from the balcony. “What was great about the event was that all walks of life with all sorts of responsibilities on campus all came together just to hang and have fun,” explains Gebelein, visiting assistant professor of modern languages.   

In Gebelein’s class, she seeks not only to help her bilingual students become more fluent and better prepared to read and write in Spanish, but also aims to help Latino students to become part of the Latino community and recognize the contributions of Latinos to the cultural and intellectual life in this country. Although class members have reached out to the Hartford community, they realized that the Hartford Latino community is very well represented on their own campus. The party gave them the opportunity to see that “this campus has a Latino face.”

Over 55 percent of Buildings & Grounds and Chartwells workers at Trinity are Latino, most of whom do not spend their work days in front of computers, so the students set out to spread the word of the Fiesta Latina. In addition to hanging posters around campus, Gebelein’s students personally went around to hand out invitations and encourage all Latinos to attend. The response was overwhelmingly positive and plans are under way to make it an annual event. “What really inspires me,” notes Gebelein, “is thinking about ways in which we can do a better job of bringing together the different communities and reaching out to a lot of workers that we don’t always include in planning.”

While Gebelein was delighted with the turnout, there were a few missing B & G workers that she had expected to show up. When she inquired as to their whereabouts, she was informed that a sprinkler had malfunctioned in one of the residence halls and that they were dealing with the emergency. Although unfortunate that this hardworking crew was unable to attend the event, it represents exactly the kind of dedication and commitment to Trinity that the Fiesta Latina was celebrating.

Story contributed by Carlin Carr


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