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East Side News: Waite High School’s Fiesta Latina

By Josh Flores, Spanish Instructor at Waite

 

Toledo: During the early morning hours of Friday, March 16, 2007, twenty-eight weary-eyed Waite High School juniors and seniors boarded a charter bus destined for Chicago, Illinois. 

 

Accompanied by myself, my sister Sariah, and our tour guide Kelly, the students were eager to begin the journey.  The trip, dubbed Fiesta Latina, had been in the planning stages for nearly a year. 
 

Waite High School students at Fiesta Latin dance. (L to R): Christal Móntez, Stella Villarreal, and Eloisa Zapata.

In order to make the trip more affordable, the students generated funds through a successful taco dinner.  The group also received generous donations from the Alliance of Construction Professionals (Bill Brennan) and Charlies’ Automotive, Inc. in Liberty Center.  A grant was received from Gear Up at Bowling Green State University; I truly wish to thank all who helped make the trip a reality. 

           

Fiesta Latina is an annual event occurring in Chicago, Illinois and is planned and organized by the student travel company Travel Adventures of Lapeer, Michigan.  The event featured a mural tour in the historic Pilsen Village of Chicago.  The murals were incredible and reflected the modern and past struggles of Latinos in the United States.  

 

After the mural tour, we made our way downtown where we had a group Latin street dancing lesson that was an hour of non-stop body shaking movement to the rhythms of bachata, salsa, merengue, cumbia, and reggaeton.  Everyone participated and had a great time. 

 

Sariah, who has been a professional dance instructor for fourteen years, called it “the most fun dance lesson” she has ever experienced.  After working up a serious appetite dancing, we had lunch downtown at various restaurants and then headed to our hotel, the Hickory Ridge Marriott in Lisle, Illinois.  


After checking into the hotel, we all got cleaned up to attend the signature event of the weekend, Fiesta Latina.  The evening featured dinner, dancing, games, contests, piñatas, and more dancing.  We were by far the most diverse group there and I must say were the life of the party. 

 

All of the students were eager participants in all of the activities and our own Jacob Moreno and Christal Móntez made it to the finals of the dance competition, where they were subsequently robbed of the dance champion title, but nevertheless had a great time. 

 

After representing Waite High School to the fullest and definitely making our presence known at the party, we headed back to the hotel to recharge for the next day. 
 

Waite High School students at the Fiesta Latina dance in Chicago. Front row (L to R): José Aguilar, Manny Martínez, Fred Spieler, Justin Spann. Back row (L to R): Nathan Móntez, William Rivers, Jacob Zapata, Chris Robinson, Josh Carmona, and Jacob Moreno.

 

Early the next morning, we enjoyed a great breakfast together in the hotel before heading to the Shedd Aquarium, where we attended a dolphin show and toured the reef exhibit.  From the Shedd Aquarium, we headed to the ‘Magnificent Mile’, where we did some shopping, better yet window shopping, and had lunch.             

 

Next we headed back to Pilsen Village and the Mexican Fine Arts Museum, where our guide Jorge led us through an array of remarkable exhibits telling the history of the Mexicanos from the early days of the Mexica (Aztec) Empire, the Revolución era and heroes such as Emiliano Zapata, all the way through to an exhibit dedicated to the work of labor leader César Chávez.  In all, the museum was an incredible and learning experience for each of us.  Before heading back home we had just enough time to make a quick stop at the Super Discount Mall, a flea market venue with numerous Mexican goods, and a panadería

 

As the loyal La Prensa readers are aware, I made a trip with three of my students last year to México.  The trip was very costly and I promised the students, who were not able to afford the trip, another ‘more affordable’ trip this year.  Rather than travel all the way to México to experience la cultura I was able to bring it to them in a sense.  The experience was a positive one and I plan on continuing my newfound tradition of student travel at Waite High School for many years to come.  ¡Hasta la próxima vez!

             

 

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