Students from Emma Elementary prepare to perform a traditional Mexican dance for their fellow students as part of the school’s Cultural Day. (Carrie Eidson/ Mountain Xpress)
Last Thursday, March 20, students and parents from Emma Elementary school gathered in the school’s auditorium to watch some of their fellow students perform a traditional Mexican dance from the state of Veracruz.
The program, part of the school’s Cultural Day, was organized by Nuestro Centro, a Latino community center based in Emma. Mirian Porras, program consultant for Nuestro Centro, began the program last August as a way to share the cultural heritage of the Latino students with the rest of the school.
“These dances are our inheritance from our grandparents and our ancestors, and we want to share this inheritance of which we are so proud with you,” Porras told Emma Elementary students in a presentation preceding the dance. “We are formed into positive human beings each and every day by both this identity as well as our identity from the United States.”
Porras says that she hopes the program will become a model for other Asheville area schools, showcasing other immigrant and minority cultures.
“We want to emphasize all of the positive things that the immigrant community can bring into Asheville,” Porras wrote in an email to Xpress. “This is where the folkloric dance comes in — in promoting the integration of the immigrant community with all of the rest of the community.”
Nuestro Centro’s organizers say the center was founded on the principle of helping people affected by racism, classism, homophobia, sexism and unjust and corrupt economic policies and political systems, including undocumented immigrants.
“When we talk about community issues, we try to do it with a lens of roots causes,” wrote volunteer Jackie Fitzgerald. “We do things based on those values, regardless of how we are perceived by other entities or communities.”
To learn more about Nuestro Centro, including English as a Second Language classes, connections to community services, language interpreters and their Defensa Comunitaria, which helps workers to understand their rights and provides assistance with recovering stolen wages or filing sexual harassment or racial profiling complaints, visit nuestrocentro.weebly.com
Scroll through the slideshow to see more photos of the performance at Emma Elementary’s Cultural Day.