by Sara Elrick

The way we interact with other cultures is important. It’s crucial that we respect other cultures, but to do so we need to understand them. At the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, FORCE is a student-led organization focused on bringing together the various cultures represented at Northwestern. FORCE stands for: Fellowship of Reconciling Cultures Everywhere.

Lively music, bright decorations, a taco shaped piñata and free food were just a few elements of the FORCE Fiesta held Saturday, September 24, in the Robertson Student Center.

The FORCE Fiesta is the organization’s annual event to kick off the school year during homecoming week. The FORCE Fiesta is about celebrating different Hispanic heritages and cultures with food, music, and games. This will be FORCE’s fourth year running this event.

“Everyone has a story, and everyone has a culture and at FORCE we want to celebrate and embrace that on campus and unite our students through the celebration of everyone’s culture” – Adnrea Magaña

Joshua Gillespie, president of FORCE, said, “The FORCE Fiesta is an event where everyone can come together to join in fellowship and enjoy tasty tacos, play fun games and listen to music.  We hope to engage the whole campus at the event and get students to meet one another.”

“Everyone has a culture,” said vice president of FORCE, Andrea Magaña. “Even if you’re from rural Minnesota, you still have a culture, and FORCE wants to celebrate that.” Magaña chose to join FORCE because she truly believes in what it stands for. She believes that, especially on Northwestern’s campus, it is essential to bring awareness to various cultures in order to see growth as a community.

“Culture doesn’t stop at your skin color. There is a huge misconception that only people of color have culture, and that is incorrect,” Magaña added. “Everyone has a story, and everyone has a culture and at FORCE we want to celebrate and embrace that on campus and unite our students through the celebration of everyone’s culture.”

Vivek Kuppamala, a junior at Northwestern, said, “FORCE celebrates other cultures through various events throughout the year.  Regardless of the culture someone comes from, FORCE encourages everyone to own their culture, share it and teach it to others.”

Cindy Castruita-Ontiveros, who is also involved in FORCE, said, “When it comes to the fiesta, I’m most excited about being able to showcase my own Mexican heritage, especially since there are many misconceptions about the culture. Many people come up to me and ask, ‘Why aren’t you very sassy?’ There is often a view that many Latinas are loud, obnoxious, or crazy. Another stereotype for Latinos is the assumption that many are laborers.”

Northwestern is a multicultural campus, and FORCE is dedicated to bringing them all together through events like the FORCE fiesta and many others. For more information stop by the FORCE office located on the first floor of the Billy Graham building.

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