MEChA Students Celebrate Latin American Culture

UCSD’s 26th annual Raza Awareness Week began on May 4 with events aimed at understanding and celebrating the social, cultural and political aspects of the Raza community.

Raza Awareness Week coordinator Veronica Rubalcava explained that many are unaware of how vast and rich the cultures they are celebrating are.

“From Guatemala to El Salvador to Mexico, you have really rich traditions and cultures that not a lot of people are aware of,” Rubalcava said. “This week is dedicated to allowing not just the Raza community but the UCSD community as a whole to get together and really get to understand these issues on a deeper level, as well as celebrate the cultures that Latin America has to offer.”

Raza Awareness Week, sponsored by Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanola de Aztlan and La Sociedad [email protected], kicked off Monday with a taquero when more than 150 students received free tacos for providing three facts about Latin America. Later that day, several musical groups representing different Latin American nations performed at Price Center Plaza. A mariachi band picked up the musical festivities with a performance on Tuesday, which was also Cinco de Mayo. 

MEChA then hosted an open forum at the Raza Resource Center on Wednesday called “Queer Latinidad & Higher Education”. The Raza Awareness Week Facebook event page described the forum as “a writing workshop and open discussion on life, death, love and resistance through a Queer [email protected] lens.” Later that night, UCSD community members gathered together for Mujer Appreciation Dinner to celebrate the women in their lives.

MEChA Board intern Jonathan Gonzalez sees Raza Awareness Week as an opportunity for the Raza community to unite and express themselves freely. 

“Raza Awareness Week is the time of the year that people of color from Central, Latin and parts of North America can push forward the best of their cultures,” Gonzalez said. “It shows how we are not that different and how we share similar struggles, heritages and cultures.”

Thurgood Marshall College junior Esperanza Gutierrez, who is also a member of MEChA, thinks that, even for members of the Raza community, Raza Awareness Week is the best place to learn more about and experience their culture. 

“My parents have told me stories about their culture and taught me certain practices, but I was born and raised in America, so they could only teach me so much,” Gutierrez said. “It’s great to see my roots in person and the traditions of where my grandparents are from.”

Though this is UCSD’s 26th Raza Awareness Week, Rubalcava informed the UCSD Guardian that MEChA lost traditional status and funding this year from A.S. Council for unclear reasons. However, the organization eventually convinced A.S. Council and Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service to fund their week-long celebration. 

“We had been talking with A.S. finance representatives since Fall Quarter [2014], and they were aware of our situation,” Rubalcava said. “Even though there were a lot of hiccups throughout our funding journey, A.S. [Council] still worked with us and gave us the funding that we needed.”

The celebration continues on Thursday with an art project on Library Walk in which community members can paint their thoughts on the “MEChA Wall” until 2 p.m. Playwright Josefina Lopez will then screen the film “Real Women Have Curves,” which she co-wrote and is based on her play, at the Cross Cultural Center and answer questions from audience members. Raza Awareness Week concludes on Friday with a screening of the film “Sin Nombre.”