Foster Hosts First Ever Latin Carnival

The Foster MBA Global Business Association and International Affairs hosted the first Latin American Carnival last week for all Full-time and Evening MBA students. The carnival started around sunset with the students dancing and singing late into the evening. It featured Latin American food, live music from Vallenato Panamericano – a group of Masters & PhD Latin American UW students – and the UW Tango Club and Salsa club, which hosted a mini bachata and salsa workshop.

Student performers at the Latin Carnival

Cynthia Vargas, Full-time MBA class of 2023 and President of the Global Business Association shared her experience organizing the carnival.

What motivated you to organize this event?

International Affairs and the Global Business Association have been leading cultural events for the MBA community at Foster for several years. We have celebrated incredible demonstrations of culture during Diwali, Lunar New Year, and Holi, and now we wanted to do the same for Latin American culture.

Although only 2% of the students in the MBA program were born and raised in Latin America, we didn’t want that to stop us from representing our beautiful culture in the business school. What better way to celebrate than with a Latin Carnival? “Carnaval” in Spanish and Portuguese is a celebration with significant cultural importance and is held in almost every Latin American country. It encompasses dancing, music, delicious food, and vibrant energy. Each country puts its own twist on the carnival, and we were thrilled to host our own version of Carnaval for the first time at Foster.

Students performing at the Latin Carnival


How did you ensure that the performances and the dishes were inclusive of the rich cultural diversity of Latin America?

We wanted to make this experience as authentic as possible, starting with our vendors and performers. During the celebration, we wanted to share food from all the Latin American regions: To represent the North America (Mexico) region we chose tacos, for Central America pupusas were the main dish, and for South America & Caribbean our choice was arepas and empanadas. All the food was sourced from local vendors: La Cabaña Seattle in Northgate and Arepa Venezuelan Kitchen in U District. 

We also knew we wanted to make this a very cultural event, to achieve this we contacted UW student groups that could perform music and dance from the region. Our live music and dance were performed by Vallenato Pan-Americano, a group of friends composed of UW Master and Ph.D. students from Latin America that performed a potpourri of some of the most popular and traditional songs of Vallenato and Cumbia, traditional Folk Rhythms from Colombia, that are popular in other Latin American countries. UW Salsa Club performed a salsa song and hosted a mini salsa & bachata workshop, and UW Tango danced four songs that represent the beauty of Argentine tango culture. And a group of MBA students led by Fanny Tavera performed a choreographed dance to a popular Bad Bunny song.

Video: Sohara Mehroze Shachi

What is next for the GBA and Latin American celebrations?

This was the first time we celebrated Latin American Culture at Foster, but it certainly won’t be the last. We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to organizing this event and to the Foster community for attending. Business and culture are intertwined, and International Affairs and the Global Business Association – perennially sponsored by the Foster School’s Global Business Center – are committed to providing MBA students with access to cultural events that enhance their international perspective. 

Class of 2023 Organizers: José Mario Peña, Cynthia Vargas, Govinda Lalwani

Class of 2024 Organizers: Ariogni Suarez, Santiago Pereda, Ni Zhang

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