Gran Fiesta Latina: Campus celebrates Hispanic Heritage

A night of food, special guests and salsa dancing entitled La Gran Fiesta Latina will be held Sept. 22 in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Liberty’s Office of Opportunity and Enrichment hosts La Gran Fiesta Latina to bring students from all Latin communities and beyond together.

“Gran Fiesta Latina is a celebration — or more so, our biggest celebration — for Hispanic Heritage Month at Liberty. And it’s really a salsa night, except that we have more than just salsa,” Kike Caycedo, Associate Director of Diversity Retention and Student Success, said. “We’re going to have performances from my local band from Roanoke, which is like the main entertainment of the night.”

This event started back when Caycedo was a student at Liberty, and it was then held in what used to be the Center for Multicultural Enrichment.

However, the overwhelming number of students who attended the event forced them to move to a bigger space.

“That was the biggest mistake: doing this event within our walls. Then we upgraded to the LaHaye Event Space, and even though it is a bigger space, it just packed up,” Caycedo said.  “We realized that now if we are going to bring 3,000 guests, we just have to do it in the Academic Lawn, where we will not have to be restricted by any walls.”

The attractions at this event will incorporate the Salsa Keys Band playing throughout the night and Pololo playing in the middle in a halftime fashion. The event will also treat students with Dominican catering from Lillie’s Kitchen, which will fry fresh empanadas on location.

“We will expect a lot of Latin music, of course, just a lot of high energy and teaching students to at least know how to dance one rhythm. We typically have surprise performances of someone teaching,” Caycedo said. “This is something for everybody to have some common ground on what we will definitely do through the night.”

Alan Jimenez-Luna, a Liberty student, expressed his excitement for attending the event, as it will be his first time going to one in his time at Liberty.  

“Yes, it is my first time and I’m pretty excited to check what it’s all about,” Jimenez-Luna said. “Some people would say that it was like a big gathering. So, I think I like being with a group of friends and I like people in general.”

Jimenez-Luna later said that he believes this event would be a great opportunity to meet other people from similar backgrounds as him — or from completely different ones. 

“If it’s a Gran Fiesta Latina, which is a Latin or Hispanic type of reunion, it’d be a great way to connect with other Hispanics or a bunch of fellow students,” Jimenez-Luna said. 

Caycedo also said that other events such as Taste of Nations were also incorporated back in the 80s when the office went by the name of the Minority and International Student Office. These events bring everyone together to blend and promote diversity.

“Taste of Nations and all these (other) programs were created to celebrate the diversity that we had on campus, to celebrate that we looked like the kingdom, which is every race, every tongue, every nation,” Caycedo said. “So, in light of that, through time, our office not only changed names but also structures. Back then, it used to be called the Center for Multicultural Enrichment. And that’s when they started more multicultural programs to actually make sure that we are celebrating the multicultural aspect of Liberty University.”

Amaro-millan is a news reporter for the Liberty Champion

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