Seattle University Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA) club hosted their annual Celebración event on April 21. The up-beat music and colorful flashing lights in Campion Ballroom was made possible through the political work MEChA was founded on. The group originated in East Los Angeles in the 1960s to create higher education opportunities for Latinx youth and empower them to follow their dreams.
Now that Latinx youth have the resources and space to pursue higher education, MEChA has shifted their efforts and now focuses on creating a safe space and community on campus for Latinx people, while giving back to their community through political activism.
Nayeli Cervantes, MEChA’s co-event coordinator, said that her favorite part about joining MEChA has been seeing the work they have been able to do in their community.
“Freshman year we went to the May Day parade,” Cerantes said. “A spark lit within me when I was gathered with people that have the same beliefs and want the same rights for all individuals and being united with such a strong community.”
Crystal Magana works with Cervantes as a co-event coordinator as well and said that by joining MEChA, she was able to find her family and group of friends.
“I am an out-of-state student so when I came to Seattle U, I didn’t find my community until I joined MEChA,” Magana said. “The best thing I have gotten out of MEChA is having my community and knowing where I am safe. The people that I love are here.”
To reflect MEChA’s new mission, the club has been hosting Celebración as a recognition dinner for the Seattle U Bon Appétit workers and custodial staff. MEChA would invite all members of the Seattle U community to join them in showing thanks to those being recognized and to celebrate their Chicanx culture. The club would host artists from the Chicanx community to share their music and art as well.
This year, the club transformed Celebración into a baile, a place for people to gather and dance. MEChA had a DJ mixing a variety of American, Mariachi and modern Spanish songs throughout the night. The club also had jewelry and food available for attendees to purchase.
Second-year Sarah Dundas enjoyed her first experience at Celebración. Dundas finds cultural events like Celebración super important to Seattle U because they allow her to experience new cultures.
“Cultural events like Celebración are super important and our school should do more. They open my eyes to other cultures in a way that is not super present in Seattle,” Dundas said.
Cervantes said MEChA re-envisioned their event to serve as a fundraiser for an appreciation barbeque for the Bon Appétit workers and custodial staff. The club wanted to be more intentional in showing their gratitude by sharing a meal with workers and staff members.
“Through Celebración we wanted to reach out to our community but beyond that, this year we are [taking the] donations from Celebración for Bon App workers and custodial staff to put on a dinner for them,” she said. “[We want] to serve them and cater to them just as they have been catering to us.”
Magana said they not only want to cater to the Bon Appétit workers and custodial staff but, they want to build a more personal connection with each person they serve and encounter.
“[We want] to sit down and have an intimate moment with them by getting to know them,” she said. “Celebración started off as a traditional production and dinner to serve the Bon App workers but we switched it up. Now Celebración helps to fundraise money to be able to have an intimate barbeque with them.”
The Bon Appétit workers and custodial staff are still invited to join Celebración. Cervantes said the barbeque will take place in late May once the funds have been organized and the club has coordinated a day when most members are available.
Magana said they hope that those who were able to attend Celebración had fun and were able to experience a little of their culture.
“We just hope people get a taste of our culture through dance but, also recognize that [although] we are small population, we are here,” she said. “We are Latinos and we are here on campus. So come join us and have fun.”
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