Diversión, comida y música


Johana LaCherre performing a traditional Peruvian dance called Valicha

By: Ami Momaiya Staff Writer

Johana LaCherre performing a traditional Peruvian dance called Valicha -- Photo: Stephen Weigel

On Friday, October 7, Rockville Campus celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with The Gathering: Festival Peru. The first thing that caught my eyes when walking into the Theater Arts Arena was a profusion of color.

The festivities kicked off with a resounding “Buenas tardes, Peru!” In translation, it means “Good afternoon, Peru!” If our world still prioritizes eating, drinking and being merry, that was definitely a good afternoon. It began with a warm welcome from Professor Hilda Smith and Professor Linda Robinson. The Master and Mistress of Ceremonies, Jofred Rivera and Wendy Lopez, then presented a slideshow with important information about Peru.

The audience learned that the colors of the flag hold a deep meaning, with red standing for the blood of heroes and white standing for peace and purity. One of the lessons from the slideshow was that the diverse demographics of Peruvians include natives, Afro- Peruvians, Asians and others.

The slideshow continued with beautiful pictures of birds like the Rupicola Peruviana (the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock) and the Ara Macao (the Scarlet Macaw). They shared pictures of “mantas” (textiles) and facts about an industry that produces intricate textiles that are appreciated all over the world.

Jean Paul Cruz plays the Quena, a traditional Peruvian flute at Festival Peru. Cruz is the lader/manager of the group, Tahuantinsuyo del Inca -- Photo: Devon Singer

They were more than right about the textiles that are appreciated all over the world. Personally, I appreciated the fact that they were strewn all over this campus arena for that particular moment. My eyes were transfixed by colors and gradients woven in and out of more colors and gradients.

Raices y Expresiones (Roots and Expressions) put on a brilliant Afro-Peruvian music and dance performance. They definitely know how to work a room.

I would like to note that the demographics lesson from the earlier slideshow ended up being shown to the audience through the diversity of the performances at the event itself, as no two performances were remotely the same.

Before starting a song, they explained that it was influenced by birds. They were not kidding. They legitimately made Rockville Campus feel like a tropical rainforest. I closed my eyes for a moment and soaked it all in because the real world, unfortunately, is not filled with moments as relaxing as that one.

As a sign of the times that we live in, they played a YouTube video. This video, Documental Marca Perú, documented the journey of Peruvians who moved to Peru, Nebraska. It was educational, lighthearted and served to remind us that we are not all so different, by highlighting their adventures and interactions with the locals.

At one point, the Peruvians made a feast for the Nebraskans. They let the locals try their purple corn drink, Chicha Morada, and native soda that, surprisingly, has a lot of national pride associated with it, Inca Kola. It was certainly refreshing to hear, “¡Me gusta las papas!” in a farmer’s accent. It looks like they had an adventurous party in which many people got to try something new, while the rest got to enjoy sharing how the traditions of their ancestors have evolved over time, much like we did at the college.

Originally an Arabic confection, these Alfajores have become a popular Peruvian sweet treat. -- Photo: Stephen Weigel

A handful of local restaurants provided sponsorships in the form of food and drinks. We got to try Chicha Morada and Inca Kola. The reactions to those drinks in the Theater Arts Arena were quite similar to the reactions to those drinks in the documentary. Baskets of cooked corn and cheese went around, as did baskets of salted corn kernels. For dessert, there were plenty of things, but the display of turrónes was just beautiful.

After the buffet, it was time for more performances. At one point, Raices y Expresiones started pulling the audience into their dance. I even got pulled in and had a good time dancing around in confused circles with my arms occasionally being pulled in two different directions.

After that, Studio Fiesta gave a very energetic performance and started pulling the audience in. It was a crazy performance, to say the least.

To finish the afternoon, a Peruvian punk rock band by the name of Lazaro took the stage, and regaled us with a few more songs before walking out and heading back into the melting pot that we are lucky to live in.

Professor Smith and Professor Robinson, along with many Peruvian students, did a great job putting this Gathering together. The Gathering is a multicultural series sponsored by the Rockville Counseling and Advising Department.

This was definitely the right way to start the weekend.