Dominican students raise funds for Haiti

LOGAN—An overflow crowd packed the TSC Ballroom at Utah State University as the Dominican Student Association (DSA) celebrated their nation’s heritage and raised money for Haiti earthquake victims. The crowd erupted into spontaneous applause and dancing as entertainers performed traditional dance and musical selections. Originally 430 seats were planned but soon tables were rearranged to make room for more people. The event was expected to raise around $1,000 for USU’s Hope for Haiti, which was created by ASUSU and various student organizations, said DSA treasurer Auriner Castillo. Vladimir Sosa said the DSA decided to combine its main event, Areito, with the fundraiser. DSA PR officer Eliot Cuduco said Areito is a Caribbean festival. “It was the way the Caribbean natives used to celebrate any kind of festival like a newborn child or a new harvest,” Cuduco said. “Basically, Areito is a celebration of any kind.” The idea of festivity is important to the DSA’s annual event, said multicultural chairperson Jean Carlos Almonte. “We wanted the biggest event to have that name,” he said. “We want to make it the official biggest Dominican event, so it is the name that will stick for future use.” Students Stefany Suasnavas and Luis Zarate were on a date at the event. Suasnavas, a junior majoring in graphic design, was born in Ecuador. Zarate, a freshman, was born in Mexico. “I really like their shows,” Suasnavas said. “They (the DSA) really know how to put on a good show.” She said her favorite part of the evening was the final performance in which various dances were performed to different types of music. Zarate said he enjoyed the slideshow. The video presentation included pictures of Haitians waiting in food lines, living in makeshift tents and praying as “We Are the World” played in the background. Originally recorded in 1985 to benefit Africa, the song was remade to benefit Haiti after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Jan. 12 and left the country in ruins. Since then organizations throughout the world have raised money and provided assistance to the quake victims. “We feel it was a total success,” Castillo said. “This is the first time we did this event this big and we reached our target.” She said it is important to show everyone Dominican roots and culture. “We look forward to feedback and improving for next year,” Almonte said. “If we can reach a goal we always want to take it to another level the next time.”

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