As the sun set over the Nebraska Union Plaza on Oct. 5, a large group of students, staff and faculty enjoyed games, crafts, performances and a mix of traditional and pop music from Latin America at Fiesta on the Green, the annual campus celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Lawrence Chatters, executive associate athletic director for strategic initiatives, spun the tunes, taking breaks for vocal performances from Mariana Hernandez-Moreno, a freshman music education major from Omaha.
Hernandez-Moreno sang pop hits in Spanish from artists such as Selena, Linda Rondstadt and Beatriz Adriana. Throughout the evening, she performed seven times. A member of the Mexican American Student Association, she was thrilled for the opportunity to perform.
“I simply could not turn down an opportunity to sing, especially in Spanish,” she said. “This opportunity is meaningful to me because it allows me to give back to my community and express our culture in such a big way. I believe song is one of most powerful forms of expression, and I am so grateful I get to share it with those that joined us.”
She leaned on her mom to help her come up with a varied song list.
“They are songs that could either get the audience up and dancing or tell a good story, although some will hopefully do both,” she said.
The event was organized by the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Adriana Martinez, coordinator for programs, marketing and communication for OASIS, led the planning. She said student organizations were invited to have a booth with a Hispanic-related activity.
Sarai Ramon, a junior criminology and criminal justice major from Grand Island, Nebraska, is the president of Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, a registered student organization for Latina women. The sorority was helping visitors make tissue paper flowers.
“Tissue paper is often used for decorations for parties and celebrations in Mexico,” Ramon said. “And these tissue paper flowers are a really popular craft for students in grade schools in Mexico. People are having a lot of fun, and we seem to be a popular table.”
The paper flowers translated well to decorations for piñatas, which were offered for personalizing at the table of Future Teachers of Color, an RSO that aims to create a space for engagement, mentorship, leadership and professional development opportunities for BiPoC students in the College of Education and Human Sciences.
The booths engaged visitors. For Ramon herself, Fiesta on the Green was a way to connect with her campus community.
“I actually found out about the sorority at Fiesta on the Green as a freshman,” she said. “I made a paper flower and started asking questions.”
The Mexican American Student Association had an enthusiastic crowd at a large table playing Mexican Bingo. Students gathered around, waiting for their chance to try to fill a card for a prize.
Other organizations represented included UNITE, the Afrikan Peoples Union, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Kappa Delta Chi, OASIS and Delta Xi Nu.
The event closed with performances by two dance groups, Las Guanaquitas, an El Salvadorian group from Omaha, and Sangre Azteca, a Mexican Folk Dance group from Lincoln.