‘THANK GOD IT’S SALSA NIGHT’: SALSA DANCE CLASS EMBRACES DIVERSITY AND STUDENT BODY’S GROWING INTEREST IN HISPANIC CULTURE
By: Bennie Williams, Campus News Editor
The senior class council is hosting ‘Salsa Night,’ a free dance class open to all students. The ‘Salsa Night’ will be held today in the gymnasium of the Samuel H. Archer Recreational Center on campus. Doors open at 8:00pm.
The Salsa dance has roots in dance styles from Latin American countries, including Cuba and Puerto Rico. It also blends the dance styles of the enslaved Africans that were brought to the Caribbean and Latin America.
Dr. Denise Callejas is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Morehouse College. She shared with The Maroon Tiger her perspective on student engagement and the benefits that students can gain studying Spanish.
MT: Have you seen a growing interest among students to learn Spanish?
Dr. Denise Callejas: In my 7 years at Morehouse, I have seen a growing interest among students to not only improve their linguistic aptitude, but to fully immerse themselves in the cultures that represent the Hispanic world. More students are taking advantage of studying abroad, going so far as to spend entire semesters in Argentina, taking summer programs in Mexico, and most recently traveling to Colombia as part of our FYE MPAGE course.
MT: What benefits can students gain from studying Spanish at Morehouse?
Callejas: Aside from the domestic advantage for students—Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States—it is a language that undertakes the mission of Morehouse College to teach the history and culture of Black people. To better understand this history, one cannot overlook the indelible mark the African Diaspora has left throughout the Hispanic world. Yes, Spanish represents a language of empire and oppression, but it also is a site of resistance to that imposition, forever changed by its encounter with African languages and cultures. So much of our music, literature and everyday conversation is a reflection of this syncretism. To learn Spanish is to gain access to that legacy.
BJ Walker is a Senior Business Administration major with a minor in Spanish from Orlando, Florida. He is a part of the growing group within the student body that is engaging and learning about Spanish culture.
Walker explained his motivation for studying Spanish. He said, “I grew up in Florida where there is a large Spanish-speaking population. I always wanted to communicate with people in my community, so I started studying Spanish. I have studied Spanish since middle school.”
He shared details about his experience studying in Argentina last semester. Walker said, “I was in Buenos Aires. I studied at a Catholic university and an Arts school. I mostly studied the language. I also took various courses such as Argentine History and Tango. By studying these courses that were completely in Spanish I was able to learn the language. My main goal was to immerse myself in the culture.”
During his immersive experience in Argentine culture, he was exposed to an essential element: music. He said, “I enjoy listening to some of the Argentine rappers. One of my favorites is Trueno…his music is fire!”