Festival Latino PENNSANDO Kick Off Event! The Latino Coalition & Lambda Alliance collaborate for a night celebrating both QPenn Closing and Festival Latino Kick Off! Enjoy a night of delicious free Latin food, spoken word and performances. Free giveaways. Credit: Fabiola Diaz , Fabiola Diaz

Chips, guacamole and rainbow cupcakes.

Festival Latino kicked off with a celebration of its LGBT community Sunday night in Claudia Cohen Hall with food and music.

For years, Festival Latino — the week dedicated to the celebration of Latino culture — and QPenn, its LGBT counterpart, have overlapped in timing. Last night, both boards celebrated with their first collaboration: Sancocho.

Sancocho is a Latino traditional stew that combines various kitchen ingredients. The event’s name was supposed to represent the variety of cultures within the Latino community.

The event began with Michael Lewis, Lambda vice chair of communications and College sophomore, performing on the guitar. Then followed poetry, a dance performance by Onda Latina, and information about LGBT and Latino local resources.

The leader of the organizing board of PENNsando — the name given to this year’s Festival Latino — Engineering sophomore Alexa Gallegos emphasized that each event is designed to be inclusive to the broader Penn community. She said that increasing the visibility of PENNsando, and fighting against conceptions that the Latino community is exclusive, is a goal of the upcoming events.

Sunday night’s event was also notable because of its hosts. With PENNsando beginning as QPenn comes to an end, the leaders of the Latino Coalition and the Lambda Alliance thought it was time to come together to celebrate the diversity of both communities.

“QPenn week was a huge success,” said Lambda Alliance Chair and College sophomore Dawn Androphy. “Historically, [it] has always been the week before Festival Latino.” This year, they wanted to acknowledge the intersection between the two.

Diana Estrada-Alamo, a College junior and the chair of Queer People of Color, said that as a member of both communities, she has been fighting for this event to happen since last year.

“The climate [at Penn] has changed a lot,” Estrada-Alamo, who was one of the MCs, said, recalling an upperclassman mentor she had as a freshman. He was the only openly gay Latino at Penn that she knew of. Today that is no longer the case, and they can now provide a space for both Latino and LGBT community members.

College sophomore Joel Olguin, the finance chair of QPOC and the other MC, said he was glad to see what the event represented — the changing diversity of the United States and the diversity within both the LGBT and Latino communities on campus and nationwide.

The event, which featured a free dinner and entertainment, was well-attended, with over 80 seats filling within the first ten minutes of the program.

United Minorities Council chair and College sophomore Joyce Kim, who said she came because she was friends with the organizers of the events, said “I think it’s really cool that they’re collaborating on this event because their weeks align.”

Others made the choice to attend on a whim. College senior Megan Scott had just walked out of her sorority chapter meeting next door when she was invited in for the free food. She and a couple of her sorority sisters decided to stay “because of the cheerful atmosphere.”

Festival Latino will continue every day through March 31.

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