Honoring Ecuador at Noche de Gala
Alex Palmieri – News Writer
Every year, Southern hosts Noche De Gala, which acknowledges different Latino countries. This year, the country that was highlighted was Ecuador.
Robert Heron, vice president of Organization of Latin American students, said he takes a specific country to express that country’s culture, in attempt to make everyone aware of it. Since an earthquake hit Ecuador earlier in the year, Heron said he wanted to make everyone aware of the situation.
“We’re actually donating some of our funds to them,” said Heron. “All the funds that we make off this event are for scholarships for incoming Latino students.”
Heron said he expected roughly 230 people to come to the event. With drinks, food, and slide shows about the Ecuadorian nation, Heron said he wants everyone to understand the culture.
“We need to stand united as human beings,” said Heron. “Our brothers and sisters went through a tragic episode and a lot of members of their families have passed away.”
Heron has a son who is half Ecuadorian, and the mother of his son is Ecuadorian as well. Heron said the mother of his son was personally effected through the tragedy that happened earlier in the year.
“I was a big advocator for this,” said Heron. “Especially having the money donated to Ecuador; so this kind of touches home for myself.”
At the event, there were slides of the country before the earthquake, during the earthquake, and how the country stands now. Heron said he had the privilege to work with an Ecuador consult that is from the New Haven area that provided Southern with Ecuadorian musicians, performances, as well as Ecuadorian art.
“There’s a lot of facts about Ecuador that people don’t know,” said Heron. “So we have them listed at the tables; so we try to bring knowledge about Ecuador to them. So it’s kind of Ecuador here.”
Joe Bertolino, president of Southern, also made a quick appearance at Noche De Gala. He said Southern students from all backgrounds and cultures are members, supporters and involved with the group.
“That’s actually very exciting to see,” said Bertolino. “All cultures coming together to celebrate a culture.”
Bertolino said Noche De Gala is not only be supportive of one another, but to have a good time in the process. He said it is a healthy and safe way to have fun on a Thursday night on the Southern campus, and to be supportive of the organization. Bertolino added that the Latino and Spanish descent is growing not only at Southern, but in the city of New Haven.
“It is or soon will be the largest demographic in the city of New Haven,” said Bertolino. “So the city will be what is termed majority-minority. I think that’s very exciting. I think it’s good for the city; I think it’s good for our students.”
Ultimately, Bertolino said the main reason he attended had very little to do with the party aspect of Noche De Gala. He said he wants all Southern students to know that he supports them and cares about them.
“I think the more events that we can have,” said Bertolino, “that not only support the Hispanic and Latino population, but more importantly that brings students together across culture, across racism, across ethnicities, across religions, orientations, lifestyles, etc., I think that’s positive and important for our community.”
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana – Photo Editor