Prof hopes for big Latin folk festival turnout

Sixth annual scholarship fund-raiser provides exhibit opportunity for artists, performers

by Brian Dear

Daily Cougar Staff

Flowing colorful costumes, music fit for a fiesta and joyous dancers caught up in the spirit of their performance are some of the images Spanish professor Carlos Monsanto has planned for the sixth annual Latin American Folk Festival.

Monsanto, known by many for his "students first" philosophy, is a passionate advocate of Hispanic cultural awareness. "Hispanic culture should be part of American culture, not a separate thing," he said.

Freshman Micheal Lynde agrees. "I am not Hispanic, but I think that Hispanic awareness is important for everyone. It's part of our culture as Americans."

Monsanto promotes the Latin American Folk Festival each year to help raise funds for the Arturo Monsanto Scholarship.

Low attendance has plagued past festivals, but Monsanto is optimistic. "The media coverage of the Latino Heritage Month's festivities has improved. I am very pleased to see local television taking an interest." The five previous festivals have raised nearly $6,400 for the scholarship fund.

Monsanto's primary goal for the festival is to help deserving Hispanic students go to college. During the past five years, 12 students have directly benefited from Monsanto's work by each receiving a $500 scholarship.

"The Honors College currently funds the scholarship until it becomes endowed," Honors College Dean Ted Estess said. Ten thousand dollars is required for the endowment. Estess and the Honors College faculty coordinate the distribution of the awards and present them to outstanding Hispanic students. Miguel Segovia, an English major, is this year's recipient of the scholarship.

Beyond assisting students, the Latin American Folk Festival provides local artists a forum in which to perform. Many young, talented artists never receive a chance to display their skills, due to finances or other obstacles.

Dancers, painters and musicians can all get their breaks at the festival. "There exist many gifted artists, without the opportunity to exhibit their talent. The Latin American Folk Festival provides an avenue of artistic expression," Monsanto said. The performances seen on campus for Latino Heritage Month are just a sampling of what to anticipate, he said.

The aim of the Latin American Folk Festival is promoting community spirit, he said. Monsanto wants to topple the "ivory tower" of UH and to make the university more community oriented.

"First and foremost, the goal of an educator should be helping people," he said. Monsanto said he believes in bringing the community and UH together. "The University should not be a separate community, but part of a larger one," Monsanto said.

The Latin American Folk Festival, now in its sixth year, is set for Feb. 4, 1996.

Interested contributors, performers and artists should visit Monsanto in Room 420, Agnes Arnold Hall, or call 743-3061.

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