CASA closes HSI Week with a bang

(10-06-2016)

Reflection Article by Amanda Martinez

Vince Alcon smiles next to a wheelbarrow of corn

Photo by Toni Leach
Vince Alcon enjoys the Hispanic Heritage celebration.

.On September 23, standing in the yard of the Adams State University Cultural Awareness and Student Achievement (CASA) Center, under the hanging golden lights the night was full of life and energy. The smell of horno baked bread and horno roasted corn permeating the air, when President Beverlee J. McClure stepped up onto the risers between the aspens to welcome community and students alike. Her speech was followed by Bertha Garcia, the same amazing woman that stood at the mouth of the horno to deliver the hand-kneaded dough into the clay oven to bake. She performed a beautiful blessing on the food before the literal breaking of bread.

That chilly Friday morning was an early start, warmed by the lighting of the hornos while student volunteers put corn stalks in tubs and an old blue wheelbarrow to soak. The CASA Center fundraiser table was set up and people weaved in and out to sample some of our hand-picked capulin jelly on top of butter smattered bread. Capulin jelly, horno bread and biscochitos went from our kitchen to that of others, thus making our fundraiser a very successful one that could satisfy any stomach.

The Celebrating Our Heritage 2016 event truly kicked off at twelve when Curandera Belinda Garcia performed our 'Fire and Inspire' healing ceremony. People were encouraged to enjoy free corn and bread, as well as featured foods for purchase from Alamosa's very own Juanitos, Vila Brasil, and La Burgers y Mas food truck. Absmeier High Altitude Heirloom garlic was a highlight food for purchase at our event as well. Not to mention the Adams State Art League who served up some authentic agua de sandia, horchata and sweets.

Those attending our event enjoyed sitting on our brand new log and stone benches next to the atmospheric and cozy firepits. All of which was donated to us by Jeff and Lane Horton, Chris Quintana, and Newman Grizz Catholic respectively. Another donation to be grateful for was a Colorado WINS check presentation of $500 awarded to our David Martinez Memorial Scholarship Fund.

a wheelbarrow full of corn

Photo by Amanda Martinez

CASA's event was overflowing with heritage pride and spirit. It was in the fiber arts display by Perla Kopeloff who sat and weaved, entrancing the audience with the rhythmic twirl of colorful yarn. It was in the sculpting of pottery by ceramic artist Leslie Macklin, assistant professor of art, who took our slogan 'Do it in the Dirt' and made art out of it.

Let it not be said that CASA doesn't know how to throw a party. At 5 p.m. music from ASU alumnus Freddie Jaquez and ASU Mariachi Corazon del Valle filled the air and the ambience of home and life was a reality at CASA. We were treated by a performance from Molina SPEAKS, and he certainly had plenty of powerful words to share with us. His poetry comes from the heart and reaches into our lives to show us things that we didn't realize there were words for. Throughout the entire day, 415 ASU students, staff, faculty and community showed up to enjoy the festivities with 61 percent of attendees identifying as Hispanic.

The culmination of the event was Salsa and Bachata dancing around the fire pits. Ron Swarsen (BjRj), our internationally known DJ gave those who remained some foot tapping, body swaying music to dance to so that the Valley chill felt like just a nice breeze. The CASA Center is grateful for all of those who showed up and those who stayed, be it to help or celebrate or both. Our heritage and cultural programming continues beyond HSI week as we carry our heritage and cultural roots with us every day.