After Harvard’s Mariachi Veritas finished its opening set, the MC of Saturday night’s Organization of Latin American Affairs Culture Show, “¿Que Pasa En Mi Casa?” Edgar Sanchez, MCAS ’19, took a moment to point out to the audience the message OLAA was trying to promote with its program.
“Many times, it feels like Latinos and Latinas are shoved into one narrative, one holistic experience. This isn’t true. We, the Latino community, are a tree—a tree with a multitude of branches, each with their own significance,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez’s statement set the stage masterfully for the poets, dance crews, and mariachi band that followed, which exhibited an eclectic range of talents and interests from an even more eclectic gathering of Boston College and Harvard students.
Robsham has never rung with as much enthusiasm as it did during Mariachi Veritas de Harvard’s two performances. The mariachi crew, complete with string quintet, horn duo, and guitar trio, performed a variety of Spanish melodies that embodied the many specialties, sounds, and speeds that a mariachi band is capable of. Gilded in golden frets, the group’s outfits sparkled with a noticeable glimmer against the rustic orange background, which mimicked a clear sunset across a hazy desert. Many members of the mariachi band contributed dazzling and often surprisingly impressive vocals to many of the Mariachi Veritas’ numbers. One guitarist in particular had almost everyone in the audience on his or her feet in a standing ovation in the middle of his song.
Before the mariachi band’s opening set and second set after the intermission, two videos featured several Latino and Latina students expressing their narratives, showing the crowd what it has been like for them to adapt into American culture, holding onto their Latin culture as best they could along the way. These videos were simple, yet poignant. Students like Karla and Karina Ross, both MCAS ’18, Sofia Payano, MCAS ’19, and Sofia Zenzola, CSOM ’16, displayed a variety within the Latin American community that many might not expect to find. These students, along with a few others, discussed the subconscious societal segregation they sometimes feel, alongside what they miss about home, and what about being Latin American makes them proud.
Several poems written by BC students were read throughout the night, showing some of the struggles of growing up in American as a Latina or Latino and what these students have learned from their experiences and, notably, from their parents. Each of the three poems, written and read by Miya Coleman, MCAS ’19, Azo Mbanefo, CSOM ’17, and Luis Miguel Torres, MCAS ’16, dealt with adapting to a new language, struggling to integrate the Latin American culture into a new home, and their parents’ plight in a country where they didn’t necessarily feel welcomed. “Build a wall… I think we know who said that,” Torres said. “America, there’s always been a wall.” Simple, soft-spoken thoughts like these echoed through Robsham to an engaged, mesmerized crowd, who listened attentively to the outstanding vulnerability of the poets.
On a lighter note, several BC dance crews’ performances were sprinkled throughout “¿Que Pasa En Mi Casa?” Conspiracy Theory, Cumbia Dance Collaborative, Fuego del Corazon, and Viva de Intensa Pasion all shuffled onto the stage at different points during the night to show off melded hip-hop and more traditional Latin American dancing styles. The dances featured a superb soundtrack of Latin American hip-hop that audience members were sure to Shazam, if they didn’t already know the tracks by heart.
B.E.A.T.S also sang a couple songs in the first act, and while the songs didn’t directly link to the Latin American theme, struggling to assimilate into American culture was still at the forefront of the group’s message. The group’s cover of Robin Thicke’s “Dreamworld” had the Robsham audience, which was whooping and hollering throughout the rest of the night, in a silent daze. The acappellic bass was absolutely stupefying, entrancing the audience in an all-encompassing head bob.
Sanchez was quite possibly the best MC that could have been picked for the event. He was extremely energetic and personable, and he had the audience rolling around in tears of laughter while he was introducing each act. His opening and closing statements summed up the intention and tone of “¿Que Pasa En Mi Casa?” beautifully, and his presence kept the show extremely light-hearted, even amid its understandably and necessarily heavier moments.
Holistically, “¿Que Pasa En Mi Casa?” captured many facets of the Latin American culture at BC in an accessible and exciting fashion. The several dance acts, poetry readings, and musical numbers, alongside the brief, yet informative and personality driven student interviews, all culminated in a fascinating, impassioned, and resonate display of Latin American culture. “¿Que Pasa En Mi Casa?” made it evident that the Latin American community of BC is not one described in a few stereotypic phrases and pictures. Instead, as Sanchez so aptly puts it, the BC Latin American community has a diverse spectrum of stories, characters, and dynamics that all branch out from one root.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor