It was a tour of a hemisphere without ever leaving Santa Clarita.
The College of the Canyons department of modern languages and cultures invited the community to come to the Valencia campus Wednesday to learn and participate in the 2019 LatinX & Hispanic Cultural Festival.
The scene was filled with attendees visiting each of the tables representing a particular Hispanic culture or country, with the displays packed with agricultural crops, instruments and food specific to each region or people group. Countries and/or cultures represented included Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Peru.
“When you go to a table there’s a sampling of something,” said Claudia Acosta, chair of the modern languages and cultures department. “And so along with that, people ask, ‘Why is that? Why is this?’ So in the process of doing that they say, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. I’ve never thought of that.’”
An example of a culture’s uniqueness was on display at the Peruvian table. COC Spanish teacher Lucia Pozo, who represented the country for the day, informed attendees that Peru was not only known for its cultivation of the potato as well as a variety of strains of corn and corn-centric products, but also that there is a wide spectrum of people groups contributing to Peruvian culture.
“We are not all (descendants) of Spaniards and Incans,” said Pozo. “We have a lot of African influence in our culture, and that could be something new for students.”
Pozo added that Chinese and Japanese cultures also contribute to modern Peruvian culture, creating a country that is more diverse than most people know, in terms of its music, food and history.
“We don’t eat tortillas in Peru, we eat bread,” said Pozo. “We don’t even know what tortillas are… We are all Hispanics, but we come from different countries, and each country has different products and practices.”
The event, according to Acosta, was to show both the diversity of Latin American nations and cultures, and what they have in common with one another. Acosta added that every table had a native person educating those in attendance about a particular country.
“It gives them an opportunity to see something else,” said Acosta. “We purposefully avoid reinforcing the stereotypes in providing only surface culture. We want to go deeper.”