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Spotlight on Santo Domingo showcases Latin American culture

Beginning Nov. 11, Grand Valley State University is launching Spotlight on Santo Domingo, a 10-day celebration of the Dominican Republic. This series of events is meant to introduce students to the history, music and literature in Dominican culture.

The event will kick off with a showing of “Road To The Big Leagues,” a documentary about the journeys of Dominican men seeking major league stardom.

“Twenty percent of MLB players are from the Dominican Republic, some with the Detroit Tigers,” said Rebeca Castellanos, assistant professor of Spanish and one of the event’s organizers.

The spotlight event covers a much greater scope than sports, however. Numerous speakers have been brought in to give a wide scope of Dominican culture.

“We have performances, talks, readings; there’s something for everyone. The films reflect that too,” Castellanos said.

One speaker, Ginetta Candelario, is giving a lecture called “One Hundred Years of Dominican Feminism.”

“In theory, women in the Dominican Republic have the same rights as men,” said Médar Serrata, associate professor of Spanish who is also organizing the event. “Women still have to struggle against machismo. They don’t get paid the same.”

For the musically inclined, students can go see a performance by hip-hop and spoken word artists Hache ST and Cambio.

“Both are very good writers, the rapper talks about political issues and social justice,” Castellanos said.

Students wishing to participate in a taste of Dominican culture can attend the Bachata dance workshop.

“Bachata is as popular now as salsa in the 70s,” Serrata said. “It’s easier than salsa, so students will love it.

Perhaps the event that hits closest to home is the student panel discussion “Studying and Serving the Community in the Dominican Republic,” in which GVSU students who went to the country in 2013 will talk about their experiences as they volunteered in the community.

“Our students helped build a place for kids to receive an education,” Castellanos said. “Some of our students have never seen poverty up close. That opened their eyes. It was a transformative experience.”

Serrata said one thing the volunteers learned was that even people who don’t have much can smile, which according to both professors is a signature characteristic of Dominican people.

Both professors also said they hope these events foster a better appreciation for Latin American culture, and inspire students to consider the Dominican Republic as a study abroad option. The study abroad program runs for six weeks starting in May with an application deadline of Feb. 1, 2015.

“The Dominican Republic is only one out of many Hispanic cultures. We want these events at Grand Valley so people have a chance to experience those cultures,” Serrata said.


Category: DR News |

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Last updated March 22, 2017 at 1:17 AM
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