COSPU Folklore Dance Group
In the middle of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain ranges in western Virginia lies Harrisonburg, a city where thousands of Hispanic families decided to form and establish their homes. The majority of them are immigrants, and with children born on North American soil, their culture and traditions gradually erode as time passes and their sons/daughters adapt to the local culture.
There is a disconnect between parents and children, and although most try to do their best work by sharing part of their cultural heritage, the reality is that it feels like the two counterparts live in totally separate worlds. On the one hand, young people focused on their school life and their own lives, their friendships, and the anxiety that being a teenager brings with it. Many parents believe that schools will teach their children about their culture and traditions, but in reality, the school system does not stimulate them enough to create an interest in discovering their inner identity.
On the other hand, fathers and mothers are overwhelmed with their work, household chores, personal problems, and the alienation of living in a world where social and economic barriers bulge against them; at times, it seems that there is only time to breathe and return to the daily routine. Where does the false feeling that their children will receive the cultural education that they bring with them come from? After all, that also crossed the border with them. "Seeing the folklore group dance and represent ourselves on stage is something that makes our skin stand on end, bringing warmth to our hearts and tears of remembrance and love for our culture and traditions. We look at our daughters, and we would like them to feel the same about our culture,” said Claudia when asked why she and her daughter want to be part of the COSPU Folklore Group. "As a child, in the second year of primary school, we had to be part of the folk dance group at my school; they taught us the meaning of the dances, the music, and the dresses," added the mother.
Here a very important point is touched, in this "Country of opportunities," we have immense diversity; in October, "The Hispanic Heritage Month," schools are filled with celebratory activities that, although with a lot of effort and dedication and few resources that teachers have, the end result, its an injustice to the meaning of "Hispanic heritage" Our culture is so rich and vast that it is very possible that it would take an individual a lifetime to learn everything about his roots and enrich himself culturally on that of others.
If the American school system is not responsible for culturally educating our children, then whose responsibility is it? Obviously, it's ours. First, fathers and mothers can ignite the spark of curiosity in our young people and support organizations like COSPU, that fight to preserve and promote our culture and traditions.
The COSPU Folk Dance Group was formed and was made up of daughters of members of the valley community under TPS and their allies. The group used their talents and love for the traditions of their parents to bring to light the termination of temporary protection (TPS). The group made presentations in various cities and events until 2019; the group dissolved due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the eve of the reopening of the 2021 Hispanic Festival held by COSPU in the city of Harrisonburg, VA. Committee members immediately launched a campaign to reorganize the dance group, and with the help of Yanira, a volunteer who has led the group for many years in one of the city's public schools, the group that today has 14 participants was formed.
Karolyn, one of the dancers, said, "I like being part of this group because it gives me the opportunity to share my culture and where I am from; through dance, I connect to my mother's roots" when asked why she wanted to be part of the Folkloric Group. “And it also gives me a chance to get closer to her and get to know each other better,” Karolyn added.
“The response from these young ladies and gentlemen is excellent,” with each presentation, we always get asked by parents who want to see their daughters/sons participate. How can our kids participate? Said Sorayda, one of the Dance Group Leaders and Dance instructors.
With this project, we are creating a space for young people to practice art and, at the same time, learn about their culture and that of others; the group is a representation of the diversity that our community represents beyond a place where their dresses they wave with passion, it is a space where we are training community leaders who will represent us in the future, the project includes popular education workshops where young people will gain skills such as improving their self-esteem, advocacy, fundraising, community leadership, how to improve their intrafamily communication In the coming months we will have several workshops with the young people and their fathers and mothers and the idea is to get closer and strengthen their family relationship and together expand our knowledge of their culture and what makes them who they are.
Regarding transportation, COSPU has covered the cost of renting some Vans, but the cost is very high, and we need to raise funds to continue traveling outside the city.
The biggest challenge right now is the financial cost of maintaining the group; we need their own space where they feel safe. We started practicing the dance routines in a public park in the city; the problem there was the constant distraction, sometimes there was no space available, and during the fall, the cold forced us to look for another alternative. At the moment, we are practicing in the house of the Vice-president of COSPU, and although it is better than the park, the reality is that we need a studio.
What can you do?
If you are interested in having your son or daughter participate in the group, or if you have the opportunity and find it in your heart to support the program financially or in some other way, please send us an email to: email@example.com or call 540-860-0304.