Student group ushers in weeklong celebration of Cuban culture

Zoe Fundora, president-elect of FEC, greets a student during Monday's Week of Cuban Culture opening celebration.
By Jenny Hudak

Zoe Fundora, president-elect of FEC, greets a student during Monday's Week of Cuban Culture opening celebration.

Student group ushers in weeklong celebration of Cuban culture

By Jenny Hudak
The Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos features its annual Week of Cuban Culture with events that aim to educate the University community about some of the island’s history, as well as highlight a few customs and pastimes.

In a week filled with dominoes, dancing, and a discussion with world-renowned Cuban American musician Pitbull, the Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC) shakes things up this year with its annual Week of Cuban Culture. 

“This is our time to teach people that Cuba is not just old cars, rum, and cigars. It's the smell of cafecito being made on the stove, the rhythm of salsa, the sound of dominoes being slammed on the table, and generations of love and sacrifice,” said Sydney Stropes, a junior studying nursing and religion and president of FEC. 

The week commenced on Sunday afternoon with a trip to the Miami Hurricanes baseball game, complete with pastelitos, cafecito, and Cuban-themed apparel giveaways for students. On Monday, FEC hosted its official opening ceremony to kick off the program, where students gathered on the Lakeside Patio to watch performances from a live Cuban band. While they were there, attendees could learn more about the Caribbean island's culture and history from members of FEC.

The celebration continues Tuesday when members of the University community can attend FEC's signature event–Cafecito on the Rock. After sipping on their sweet Cuban coffee and indulging in Cuban pastries, by completing an educational activity, visitors can earn their official title as an “Honorary Cuban.” 

And on Tuesday evening, students attending the Student Government's What Matters To U speaker series—featuring Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and record producer Pitbull, a Miami native and son of Cuban Americans—can find members of FEC ready to discuss Cuban culture and its relationship to the City of Miami. 

Adriana Ramirez, a sophomore studying biology, serves as the secretary for FEC. She arrived in Miami from Cuba six years ago. After beginning her time as a student at the University during the pandemic, Ramirez highlights her excitement to have the opportunity to showcase her Cuban roots and educate the community on the culture through these events. 

“FEC is all about celebrating this amazing culture that is so rich that it can be overwhelming for someone who isn't a part of it,’’ Ramirez said. “Through this week, we try to create an environment that supports and recognizes Cuban students.” 

As the week continues, students can attend Jose Marti Day of Service on Wednesday to prepare care packages for underserved communities in South Florida, or take a behind-the-scenes look at the Lowe Art Museum's galleries featuring Cuban art. 

The week concludes with the organization's contentious domino tournament, where students can battle to become the Domino Champion. While the lineup of programs offers lots of fun, Stropes said that she hopes those who attend any event this week will fall in love with Cuban culture. 

“This week is about bringing the rhythm and the spirit of the island home and sharing that with everyone around us,” she said. “Week of Cuban Culture is how I fell in love with not only FEC, but with educating the campus about all the fun, tradition, and history that comes with being Cuban.” 

The following is the remaining schedule for the Week of Cuban Culture:

March 29: Cafecito on the Rock, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

March 29: What Matters To U presents Pitbull at the Watsco Center, 6 p.m.

March 30: Jose Marti Day of Service at the Lakeside Awning, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

March 30: Behind the Scenes with the Lowe at the Lowe Art Museum, 5 p.m.

March 31: A Visual History of Cuban Immigration at the Rock, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

March 31: Domino Tournament at the Rathskeller, 6 p.m.

April 1: Closing Ceremonies at the Rock, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.