Mi Pueblo, a UNC student organization dedicated to supporting Latinx issues and culture, is continuing to provide digital opportunities to the community despite cancellations because of COVID-19.
In response to requests made by its members, Mi Pueblo hosted “Stay-at-Home Latin Night” over Zoom on April 11.
Alysson Valverde Torres, one of Mi Pueblo’s co-presidents, said this particular Latin Night is usually held following an award ceremony that recognizes the work of graduating seniors, faculty and staff. In the wake of COVID-19, however, the physical event was canceled.
Despite this, Valverde Torres said she wanted Latin Night to continue as an experience for people to connect with friends old and new.
“Typically on Latin Nights we would see people that aren't able to come out to our other events,” Valverde Torres said. “We want people to be able to come and distract themselves a little bit from what's going on and feel like they're in a familiar place.”
UNC senior Fabiola Torres-Lara is a member of Mi Pueblo who wanted to be able to attend one more Latin Night before graduating.
“I knew the end was going to come, but I didn't know that it was going to come so soon,” Torres-Lara said. “I'm a transfer student too, so my experience at UNC was already cut short just by being a transfer, but now it's even shorter.”
For Torres-Lara, this virtual Latin Night provided an opportunity for community and closure. Although the award ceremony would be difficult to recreate virtually, she thought they may be able to organize an online version of Latin Night with music, dancing and some level of socializing.
Getting the opportunity to say goodbye to friends and faculty was important to Torres-Lara.
“Music can really bring people together and right now, with COVID-19 I feel like it's needed,” she said. “You need that sense of community and a break from your regular routine. I thought it would be a good way to make sure, people know we're still an organization and we're still a community and we're in this together.”
Latin and EDM DJ Christian Cambizaca also serves on Mi Pueblo’s outreach committee and performed a mix of preselected reggaeton, Dembow and other styles from audience requests.
“At the end of the day, we wanted to create this virtual Latin Night as a healthy distraction available for the Latinx community at UNC,” Cambizaca said. “They were always a great time because that's when the Latinx community really popped off and celebrated with their friends. We wanted to try and replicate as much as we can to the best of our ability.”
Officers of Mi Pueblo said the organization plans to continue its digital engagement with virtual dance and workout classes, a newsletter with a calendar of daily activities and video challenges, coffee forums over Zoom to discuss mental health and possibly another virtual Latin Night.