Colombian and Venezuelan children receive donations from PorColombia Student Association.

Courtesy of Franco Uribe-Rheinbolt

Colombian and Venezuelan children receive donations from PorColombia Student Association.

February 18, 2019

Through Music and Dances, Latino Students Fundraise for Charities in Solidarity

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Reggaeton pulsed through Agava last Friday night, packed with students dancing and — if they were of age — enjoying a variety of drinks. A line of students trailed 30 feet out the door, all hoping that they might be able to squeeze into the at-capacity event.

This was not a classic Wednesday Salsa Dance Night but a joint effort by the Puerto Rican Students Association and PorColombia. The event, titled “I Like It,” was designed to raise money and bring students together from all corners of campus, according to PorColombia’s co-presidents, Franco Uribe-Rheinbolt ’20 and Karen Giraldo Franco ’19, as well as PRSA’s co-presidents, Julia Pagán Andréu ’19 and Natalia Gulick de Torres ’21.

While the event was organized by two Latinx groups, the organizers wanted to make sure that the event catered to all students. “We chose a collection of music that we thought everyone would like. Seeing that everybody was dancing — it was fun to see that everyone was generally having a good time,” Giraldo Franco said.

Ward Simcox ’19 attended Friday’s festivities and told The Sun that his favorite part about the event was “the energy — everyone’s having a good time.”

Both groups have thrown fundraising parties before, but decided to collaborate in order to reach more students across campus in a “sign of solidarity,” Uribe-Rheinbolt told The Sun.

“We’re trying to connect the Colombian and Latin communities but also bring other people together,” he said. “[PRSA is] amazing, they’re really helpful. We were able to bring some of what we have and our experience and their new ideas.”

PorColombia’s vice president for external affairs Danny Alvarado-Gomez ’22 added that another one of the event’s goals was to “create Latino unity, which would be a good thing to foster on Cornell’s campus.”

Erika Gonzalez ’22, who was also in attendance, agreed. “[The party is] bringing together people of color and making us feel like we’re in one community, so I love it,” she said.

The groups will split the funds evenly between two charities of their choice. PRSA will give their money to Team Spark, a group of students in Puerto Rico who are raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society following the diagnosis of their friend, Diana Carolina Gonzalez Baerga, with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Diana was a classmate of Pagán Andréu in high school, so this organization “hit close to home,” she said.

PorColombia will decide on their charity at the end of the semester. Last semester, they donated to a woman who works with Colombian and Venezuelan students in Bogota — supplying books, school supplies and groceries to more than 150 families.

The Wednesday Salsa Dance Nights at Agava inspired the groups to pick the restaurant as their venue. “They said that they have a commitment to helping out the community,” Uribe-Rheinbolt said in reference to the staff at Agava. “They were very helpful and generous to us.”

“My favorite part about the whole event was seeing the turnout — not necessarily how many people came, but that people seemed to be having fun,” Giraldo Franco said.