VIVA club educates youth about Hispanic culture

Mimi Barney

VIVA, Lawrence University’s Latin American and Spanish Culture club, volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley to expand the Appleton’s community awareness of Hispanic culture on Oct. 25. Members hosted a Latin dance class, taught an art project and presented various dance performances by VIVA members.

The Latin dance class consisted of VIVA members playing Latin music and teaching basic dance steps of the Merengue and Bachata, two dance styles originating from the Dominican Republic, to the kids at the Boys and Girls Club.

The art project involved VIVA members creating ayoyotes,  which are “noise-makers” in Aztec culture. Aztec tradition constituted the tying of ayoyotes to wrists and ankles for occasions such as dances and ceremonies. The original ayoyotes used a type of Mexican seed, but VIVA members incorporated jingle bells as a modified version of ayoyotes. The kids at Boys and Girls club were also given the opportunity to perform the dance steps of the Merengue and Bachata while shaking their ayoyotes to a large audience at the end of the day.  Finally, in honor of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, VIVA members and kids from the Boys and Girls Club created tissue paper flowers.

Senior Osbani Garcia and junior Jazz Astwood-Padilla also performed the two dance styles to accommodate for any kids of the Boys and Girls club who could not attend the dance lessons. Freshman Zabdiel Ek-Vazquez showed off his authentic ayoyotes with a performance of a traditional Aztec dance with his group.

Olivia Hendricks ’12, Self-Agency in Youth program coordinator, remarked on the VIVA trip to Boys and Girls Club of Fox Valley, “It was impressive seeing those from kindergarten to juniors and seniors in college get involved. VIVA members were really great at bringing the kids out of their shells.”

Junior Taylor Maccoux, secretary of VIVA, elaborated, “We were so excited about this event… because VIVA was really getting out into the community and spreading awareness about Latin American culture. It was an amazing opportunity to get VIVA involved in Appleton and a fun escape for a rainy day.”

VIVA also hosted an event to celebrate Día de los Muertos on Thursday in the Warch Campus Center.

Día de los Muertos is a Mexican celebration which honors the dead by celebrating the lives of loved ones who have passed away. Usually, people offer favorite foods of their loved ones to them, and join together to celebrate the lives of their loved ones.

To celebrate Día de los Muertos, VIVA began with a lecture by Associate Professor of History Jake Frederick on the history and significance of Day of the Dead, including his own personal experiences.

Following the lecture, VIVA decorated the second floor of the Warch Campus Center with candied skulls and tissue paper flowers. Among the colorful atmosphere of various foods, drinks, and flowers were Día de los Muertos bread and Día de los Muertos hot chocolate, both of which were unique recipes made especially for the occasion.

Freshman VIVA member Terese Swords said, “I am excited to experience a new celebration and share it with the Lawrence Community!”

Garcia, President of VIVA, explained, “I want people to learn of [our] Mexican culture. I want to create a culture bridge to increase tolerance from other cultures.”

VIVA abides by their motto, welcoming “any individual who is interested in participating regardless of race, gender, religion, class, creed, or national origin.” Come to VIVA meetings to hear about future events involving the Lawrence community and the Appleton community. VIVA meets regularly Mondays at 8 p.m.

To get more involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Fox Valley, you can call (920) 731-8255, drop by their office on 160 South Badger Avenue, Appleton, Wisc., 54911, or stop by the Volunteer and Community Service Center on campus.

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