A night of celebration with the Noche de Cultura Gala

Comunidad Latinx and QTPOCC (Queer and Trans People of Color Collective) came together for an exciting event

The Great Room decorated for the Noche de Cultura Gala // Photo by Sinhayana Srinivasan ‘26

The end of the Hispanic and Latine Heritage Month was celebrated with Muhlenberg’s Comunidad Latinx and QTPOCC (Queer and Trans People of Color Collective) coming together to organize the The Noche de Cultura Gala. Having taken place on Friday, Oct. 14, it was met with great success.

It took place in The Great Room in Seegers Union, and the entire hall was decorated beautifully to fit the theme of the festival. Red beaming lights lit up a small stage, which was placed in front of screens colored purple and pink. There were traditional foods, like empanadas, taquitos and churros, to add to the fervor of the cultural festival. Adrián Padrón-Curet ‘26, an Emerging Leader, mentioned how “it was a good way of celebrating the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, where there was good food and performances.”

The Gala was filled with entertainment, with people putting on dance performances and singing songs. Performers showcased a beautiful spectacle with a mashup of songs. The crowd went wild for them, but the entertainment didn’t end there. “El Cantante,” a sweet Spanish song, was sung karaoke style, with people from the audience joining in song, and poems were recited by the passionate students, titled “Illegal Immigration” and “An Ode to my Immigrant Family,” which was previously published in The Weekly. They spoke powerful words, to convey heartfelt emotions that the poet felt about the current immigration situation, and to passionately express the difficult obstacles immigrants face everyday. 

“Even though it was stressful, the rewarding aspect of it was really cool!”

– Maria Rivera ’23

One of the highlights of the Gala was the guest speaker, Joela-Abiona Rivera. Referred to as “the new Sylvia Rivera,” she is a transgender Afro-Latine activist from Brooklyn, New York, and expressed how she was “glad [I] could meet people who were willing to listen to what [I] had to say.” She led the Stonewall Protest in 2020, and is an advocate for Black liberation and colorism in the Afro-Latine community. She spoke passionately about her work, and what she strives towards everyday. Unfortunately, she couldn’t join in-person, but she spoke through a Zoom video call, and the effect of her words weren’t diminished in the slightest. She gave examples from her own life about how she faced racism in her family and society because of them being Black citizens in a Hispanic country. She left plenty of time for the viewers to ask questions, and many of which about her insights and education regarding these matters. 

Giovanni Merrifield ’23, one of the co-leaders of the event, praised Rivera’s speech, saying, “She absolutely killed it! I felt she spoke with a lot of confidence and power, and I feel like she’s going to be a major change in this world.”

“She Absolutely Killed it!”

– Giovanni Merrifield ’23

The Gala came to an end after that, and people were dancing and singing to the peppy music. A lot of effort and hard work was put into the event, and Maria Rivera ’23, another one of the co-leaders and the writer of “Ode to my Immigrant Family,” spoke about how “the planning of it was a bit stressful, but it was also really cool for people to come together to collaborate, and I think it turned out great. Even though it was stressful, the rewarding aspect of it was really cool!” 

A lot of thought was put into it as well, and she further went on to mention how “we’ve been planning this for two to three weeks, and it unfolded before our very eyes. I also hope this starts more events like this in the future, and after the seniors are gone. We hope this continues after we graduate.”

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