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LHM closes out September with 'Nuestra Belleza Baruch' event

Latinx Heritage Month closed out with a beauty pageant event on the evening of Oct. 3 in the Multipurpose Room.

“Nuestra Belleza Baruch” is the second pageant event hosted by the LHM committee over the past two years, and the committee is trying to establish it as an annual event. The committee intended the pageant to be a spoof of Nuestra Belleza Latina, which is a famous Spanish pageant reality show on Univision.

The pageant’s contestants included four Latina students, each representing her family’s country of descent. The talent show was “meant to showcase different cultures in the Latinx heritage,” said Tatiana Betancur, co-chair of the event and the secretary of the Latin American Student Organization.

She explained that the pageant’s judges would not be focusing on the contestants’ beauty, but rather on their talents. The women participated in three segments of the show, one being a talent portion, another being a question and answer period and the last being an evening gown competition.

The event had a festive and friendly atmosphere with a crowd of around 80 people. The room was decorated with small Christmas lights, and on the stage was a banner of flags from numerous Latin American countries. Food was served to the audience during an intermission.

Brighitt Chavez, a student who attended the beauty pageant both last year and this year, explained, “I like coming to these events because they make me feel like I’m at home. To me, it is like we are all combining our cultures in one place and I enjoy learning about others’ experiences.”

Talents were showcased through performances, which featured dancing, guitar playing, a clarinet performance of the Justin Bieber remix of “Despacito” and a sign language performance of a Daniel Duran song.

A provided questionnaire focused on how the women’s’ Latinx heritage makes them who they are and affects how they embrace their cultures. Two women said that their role model is first Latina Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whom they both admire for rising up despite hardships and becoming a justice in the Supreme Court.

The women were cheered on by the audience as they walked on stage in their evening gowns. Though the event did have many of the elements of a classic pageant, it focused on teaching spectators about Latinx culture.

Each segment of the pageant was followed by a short dance or a musical performance. One of these performances included a dance number by Baruch College’s AIESEC club, which is a non-profit, youth-run organization.

Before they began, they explained that they chose to do a dance routine because they felt that dance is a way to bridge cultural differences and to bring people together. They invited anyone who wanted to join in and dance with them to do so.

There was also a professional dance number performed by a LASO dance instructor. Additionally, a musical number was played on a metal güiro using a scraper instrument, which is commonly used in Latin American music. At the end of the show, special guest Enrique Cabasa recited a poem about what his Latin roots mean to him and how he feels that people of backgrounds similar to his should do the same. He spoke about his experiences and about how he is thankful for his heritage.

Wandaly Capellan, who was representing the Dominican Republic, was declared the winner of the pageant. When asked why she decided to be part of the pageant, Kapellen responded that the event was “a great way to express the pride I feel [for my culture] and be able to show my heritage without being judged.”

The event was the closing ceremony to a busy Latinx Heritage Month, which included a "Family Feud" event that pit different clubs against each other, a meet and greet with professors from Latin America, a “mocktails" and painting event where students were educated about Latinx history by a professor, a food event and an event about deconstructing racism in Latinx culture.

Freshman Laura Guzman, who attended the closing ceremony event, felt that it was “really cool to see the school celebrates different heritages, and [events like these] bring awareness about these cultures.”

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