Northern Michigan University will celebrate Latino heritage by bringing one of Michigan’s top Latin bands, Orquesta Tradición, to campus for a performance in Jamrich Hall on Friday, Oct. 26. The public is invited free of charge. Orquesta Tradición is from the Grand Rapids area. The group plays South American and Caribbean-influenced salsa, merengue, bachata and cumbia music popular throughout Latin America.
The 6 p.m. performance will be preceded by related events. At 4:30 p.m. in Jamrich 1318, there will be a panel presentation titled “Aim North: Equity, Pathways and Success,” along with student testimonials from members of the Latino Student Union (LSU). A food and dance workshop will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Jamrich Hall main first-floor lobby. LSU members will familiarize guests with different forms of popular Latin dances that can be put to use when Orquesta Tradición begins playing.
"There are many interesting activities to promote diversity at NMU, from student groups and films to the UNITED Conference and the International Food Festival,” said LSU faculty adviser Maria Arenillas. “They are all very successful and necessary. However, there has not been in the recent past a specific event dedicated to celebrating Latino heritage. Our intention is to do it through music and dance."
Sophomore environmental science major and LSU president Marina Mankee worked with Arenillas and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Jessica Cruz to coordinate the show.
“As a representative for LSU, I communicated the organization's thoughts and ideas,” Mankee said. “[We] helped decide the location and we are working to provide authentic food. Our main goal is to represent, educate and celebrate diversity at NMU.”
Cruz said groups of high school seniors from southwest Michigan were invited and are expected to attend the event. The initiative addresses the university’s strategic plan focus area of domestic and global outreach.
“I think it helps [Latino students] to have a stronger presence on campus—have good visibility,” said Cruz. “It helps to create a strong sense of community, which helps create a stronger sense of belonging, which is then connected to increasing retention rates.”
The celebration follows closely behind National Hispanic Heritage Month. It is a collaborative effort between the LSU, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Department of Languages, Literatures and International Studies.