Eastern New Mexico University has hosted the Festival Románico for over thirty years, making it the longest standing annual event for Hispanic high school students, an event that was held yet again on February 17, 2017.
Dr. Jose Contreras, Associate Professor of Spanish Languages and Literature, said the goal of the festival is to celebrate romance languages. Contreras said those in attendance are from local high schools, “but by invitation only, so we can finish all activities in one day.”
The festival was split into two parts; the native Spanish speakers collected in the Ballroom and the non-native Spanish speakers in the Becky Sharp Auditorium. Contreras was in charge of the native Spanish speakers section of the festival and Eugenia Flores, Instructor of Bilingual Education, was responsible for the non-native students.
The event started at 9 a.m. with registration and went until 5:30 p.m. The high school students were able to enter artwork, perform skits and monologues and participate in a talent show. The day ended with a quinceañera styled dance.
High school freshmen Astrid Quintana and Juliana Santana experienced Festival Románico for the first time with their Spanish class. Both of the girls are second generation immigrants; their parents were born in Mexico but moved to the United States to grow their families. As a result, Quintana and Santana grew up speaking Spanish. “The coolest part is getting to see your culture come together,” Quintana said.
Santana and Quintana’s Spanish class put together a comical skit to perform for the festival. “It’s about a lady who has her three friends over to watch a novella,” Quintana said, giggling. “Her husband is sleep walking and he comes into the room where they are watching T.V. and starts stealing stuff and taking it back to the bedroom with him. First it’s a necklace, then a pair of glasses and finally he steals one of his wife’s friends.”
Contreras’s goal for the festival was to bring “happiness to hundreds of high school students.” His goal was achieved, made evident by the laughter that filled the auditorium during the various performances. “I’ve had so much fun,” Quintana said.