Heartbeat of Mexico at Musco Center for the Arts

Gabriela Casteneda, president of Chapman University’s Latinx Staff and Faculty Forum, elaborates on the group’s collaboration with Musco Center for the Arts.

“The Heartbeat of Mexico festival started in May of 2016. The Musco Center did a phenomenal job of partnering with us to take into account our opinions and perspectives on what this celebration should look like, from the headliners to the food. They really listened to members of the Latinx community, particularly to the Mexican community. For me as a Mexican American, it was really refreshing and heartwarming to see that they wanted to bring in our culture, which is so rich and family-oriented, to the campus.

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

It’s a multiday celebration that takes place on Memorial Day weekend each year. There are ticketed shows each night, usually Mexican singers or artists—everything from mariachi to pop stars. And the last day is the outdoor festival where we sort of take over the campus and have a few stages with performances going on, food trucks, crafts for kids, dancing. It’s a free festival, and everyone of all ages just enjoys themselves while celebrating our culture. And it helps promote Chapman as a place where future students can come and feel that they are welcome.

As a mother of two Mexican American boys, bringing them to this event fills me with pride because they can see a part of our culture and learn more about our heritage. And the feedback that we’ve gotten from our guests has been incredibly positive. People, multiple generations of families, come back year after year. One thing that is really moving for me is that it’s not just the Latinx community. This event is open to everyone, and seeing others from different backgrounds coming and enjoying it is really emotional for me.”

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