On May 10, 2012 students and staff of the IF-Sertão, Petrolina Campus had its first of hopefully many bilingual events to celebrate 5 de Mayo, led by the fantastica Spanish Professor, Soccoro Dutra, and myself, Professor Cara Snyder and with the help and participation of countless amigos!
We began the event with a student presentation (by Everton Medrado) on the history of 5 de Mayo and the Batalla de Puebla. Then, pressed to illustrate the complex relationship of Mexican-American relationships and identity in less than 30 minutes, I turned to photographer and journalist Joseph Rodriguez. I projected images (which you can view in the Power Point Presentation below) and we discussed (in a mix of Spanish and English) their reactions to them. I also showed the first few minutes of a video to provoke dialogue about what it is like to migrate. Next, students presented (in English) short auto-biographies of famous chicanos (Mexican-Americans) such as Dolores Huerta and Sonya Sotomayor. As always, the most delicious part of any event is the food, our fiesta being no exception; the highlight of the event were students from Professora Soccoro’s Spanish-Language courses presenting (in Spanish) the recipes of the Mexican food they prepared before we ate! And since I love to finish things with a lil’ baila, with our bellies full of salsa, I gave a short salsa dance class (video soon to be released on ensinapetrolina.wordpress.com)!
I hope that the event was the right mixture of fun and homage. I’d like to close with wise words from my dear friend, brilliant colleague, fellow Fulbright alumna and proud Mexican-American, Gaby Baca. When I asked for her help and thoughts on 5 de Mayo this is an excerpt from her response:
“In recent years, I’ve proudly gone to cinco de mayo events and celebrated (and cried!). Cinco de Mayo for me — and I think for a fair number of Mexican Americans– represents the celebration of our culture. Beers and guacamole aside, it’s a time to understand what the battle meant for Mexican and American History. It’s a day to appreciate the ballet folklorico, the mariachi and mole. At first, I got angry when friends used to say, happy cinco de mayo or when friends expected me to drink a margarita on that day. I’ll usually remark back — why not every day? Cinco de Mayo is just one day, but I hope it makes us all realize that the beauty of the holiday is or should be (save for AZ, GA, etc) that we can celebrate this heritage and the contributions of latinos all across the U.S. every day.”
For more curious followers, Gaby has so kindly provided some links for your reading enjoyment. Thanks Gaby, I wish you could have been there 🙂
Another gracias to all who participated and all who are reading this now!