SXU Student Shows Pride for Hispanic Heritage
As Saint Xavier University (SXU) celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, one student, psychology major Mireya Villafuerta, shares her passion for dance and Hispanic culture across the United States.
Villafuerta is a member of Ballet Folklorico, a program through the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (BYNC), whose goal is to provide ways for children to experience the Mexican culture through dance. BYNC is a not-for-profit organization that was created in the Back of the Yards area of Chicago as an organization to provide a place for children to stay off the streets. Through the Folklorico program, children learn a range of traditional dances from across the entire country of Mexico and from all periods of Mexican history, performing across Chicago and in-state competitions. Villafuerta has been a part of BYNC for 14 years and has been a member of the traveling group for nine years, competing in Texas, Washington D.C. and most recently in Colorado, where she had the opportunity to take part in a showcase of traditional Mexican dance.
"I love being a part of this group and sharing my culture through the art," said Villafuerta. "What we do through dance is expressing our love and our passion for our culture and roots. Many of our dancers are immigrants from Mexico who are not able to visit their home, so the closest they get is dance."
Over the last nine years, Villafuerta has also played a part in winning nine national championships with the Ballet Folklorico and countless cultural showcases. Their most recent competition was particularly memorable as it was the group's first time competing in Colorado, performing a dance from the Mexican state of Tabasco. The group's invitation to do this showcase was even more of an honor as American dance groups are rarely chosen to take part.
"Winning these dance competitions is not just earning bragging rights; it connects many of us to our home," said Villafuerta. "It shows others that the Mexican culture in the United States is rich and alive. Going to other states and performing demonstrates that Chicago also has a strong Mexican culture that unites us. It's a unique feeling of connectedness to people who share the same love for Mexican art."
If interested in experiencing and learning more about Hispanic culture, join the SXU community for Hispanic Heritage Month. Events take place until October 15. For a full list of upcoming events, visit the SXU calendar or contact Student Activities at 773-298-5114 or studentlifeFREESXU.