Growing up in Texas, Sara Gietzen was surrounded by Hispanic culture, such as folk dances, foods and the Spanish language, but she said she took a lot of it for granted and wishes now she'd paid more attention.
Now a student at Minot State University and president of its Spanish Club, Gietzen is trying to bring some of the culture she grew up with to MSU.
"Part of the reason I got involved is that I didn't really see a Spanish Club presence," said Gietzen. "The Spanish Club seemed to be sort of in the background."
Andrea Johnson/MDN •
Sara Gietzen is president of the Minot State University Spanish Club and is organizing an event in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Gietzen said other clubs at Minot State have made their mark in the community and are establishing yearly traditions. The Black Student Club, for instance, last year hosted a soul food celebration for the community. Gietzen and other members of the Spanish Club were inspired by their efforts to put together their own yearly event.
"I do want the Spanish Club to be known for something," said Gietzen.
That's why they're bringing back the Mexico Lindo folk dancers from the Minneapolis area, who will perform in MSU's Ann Nicole Nelson Hall from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 22.
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"The Mexico Lindo dance group performs a style of Hispanic dancing that showcases the Spanish and Native American heritage of Mexico," said Gietzen. "We would like to share an aspect of the Hispanic culture with MSU and Minot. Mexico Lindo represents the Hispanic heritage well by promoting the richness of its Mexican culture through their dance expositions. This group encourages positive role models for its members and all of the community.
"This community dance group serves as a learning tool by combining fun, physical fitness, moral values and cultural enrichment. This year is the first time in my experience that MSU or the Minot community has hosted an event of this caliber," she said.
At the conclusion of Hispanic Heritage Month, adult and youth performers from the Grupo Del Baile Folclorico Mexico Lindo (Folk Dance Group Beautiful Mexico) will perform a distinct style of folk dancing representing some select regions of Mexico. Photography is welcome.
Gietzen said the group's performance is special to see and she hopes a lot of people turn out for it. The applause will be even more important for them because the group is made up of volunteers who will drive their own cars to Minot from the Twin Cities. Minot State's Spanish Club is paying for their mileage, hotels and would like to pay for a meal. Gietzen and other Spanish Club members are scrambling to raise funding for the event. Gietzen has approached MSU organizations but has also sent letters asking for help from groups such as the Minot Area Council of the Arts, the North Dakota Humanities Council and local banks. So far she hasn't had much luck with outside sources of funding, but said she'd appreciate more donations.
The club also tried to find other places for the group to perform but so far doesn't have another venue. Plans to bring schoolchildren to the event fell through because the North Dakota Teachers' Convention is being held the same day and school won't be in session.
Gietzen said the work for the Spanish Club has been time-consuming since she is a full-time college student and married. She is taking time intensive science classes this semester and eventually hopes to enroll in the physical therapy program at the University of North Dakota.
Last year she might have had more time to devote to the effort but this year she has had to learn how to budget her time and spend just a few hours each day on sending out funding requests or trying to line up other venues for the group to perform.
She and other members of the Spanish Club would love to make the Minneapolis group's performance a yearly event or even to expand it at some point in the future. She said the group also does folk dancing on horseback that would be a wonderful performance during a local rodeo if it could be arranged in advance.
The event is free and open to the community, though it is targeted toward Minot State students.
"This is definitely a very family friendly event," said Gietzen. "We want to fill that auditorium."