A celebration of Cuban culture

With Miami’s deep-rooted historical ties to Cuban culture, hearing the blaring trumpets or the beat of a drum playing salsa music on the UC Patio won’t surprise anyone come Thursday afternoon.

The Federation of Cuban Students (FEC) began their “A Week of Cuban Culture” Saturday when they invited 20 kids from a community park to come participate in a field day with them on the UC Green. A passerby would have noticed the kids starting UM cheers and FEC members playing with them as they engaged in events like tug of war and an egg and spoon race.

“A lot of students don’t experience Miami outside of Coral Gables and the Grove,” said senior Ricky Fernandez, president of FEC. “But really, the whole backbone to Miami is Cuban culture.”

The week will continue on Monday with the official opening ceremonies on the Rock when FEC awards the Young Urban Cuban-American Award (YUCA) to three prominent Cuban-American leaders in the local community, including Rudy Fernandez, the university’s vice president for government affairs.

Free food is a staple of all of the events. According to Fernandez, FEC is expecting to feed about 250 to 300 people on Thursday during their Cuban Carnival on the UC Patio. The food, however, isn’t just meant for people walking past. FEC hopes to draw people in and provide the chance for them to learn about Miami’s Cuban culture.

“It has a lot to do with the dynamic  [nature] of the events and the people and the way things have been planned,” said Claudia Cruz, the week’s chair. “I think all the events were thought through to involve as many people as possible.”

According to the Census Bureau, of Miami’s 1.3 million Hispanics, roughly 650,000 are of Cuban descent. Hispanics comprise 66 percent of the city of Miami’s population and 57 percent of Miami-Dade County’s total population.

“The majority of us in this organization are from Miami and we’ve experienced this our whole lives,” Fernandez said. “It’s something we want to share with the campus community because we love our culture; we take so much pride in it.”

In part, the students who assisted in putting the week together aimed to make the week different than in years past.

“Our events are a lot more interactive this year,” said Valentina Lamas, vice president of FEC. “It’s to learn and really to take it all in, not just pass by and get food. It’s been fun thinking of ways to improve it.”

If You Go

Monday: Opening ceremonies at 12 p.m. on the Rock; dominoes tournament at 7 p.m. on the Rock.

Tuesday: Fashion show and Cuban desserts at 12 p.m. at the UC Patio; “Taste of Cuba” at 5 p.m. at Hecht/Stanford Dining Hall

Wednesday: “Discover Cuba” at 12 p.m. on the Rock; “Taste of Cuba” at 5 p.m. at Mahoney/Pearson Dining Hall

Thursday: Cuban carnival at 12 p.m. at the UC Patio; religious discussion at 6 p.m. at Richter Library’s Cuban Heritage Collection.

Friday: “Cuba Avant-Garde Exhibit” at 12 p.m. at the Lowe Art Museum

Ramon Galiana may be contacted at rgaliana@themiamihurricane.com.