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Fulbright Scholar Brings Mexican Culture

In Ada, Ohio, it is not often that one might get the opportunity to work with a traditional Mexican dance instructor. Thanks to the Fulbright Scholar Program, however, six students are getting to do just that.

Juan Manuel Guerra-Hernandez received a grant to teach traditional Mexican dance in an effort to bridge the cultural gap between Mexico and the United States. He has been here since the end of January working with senior management major Katie Rumbaugh of Wooster, OH, junior biology major Emily Hart of Westerville, OH, sophomore early childhood education major Betsy Bair of Stow, OH, senior nursing major Lauren Betz of South Euclid, OH, junior psychology major Hillary Pletcher of Norwalk, OH and freshman music education major Justin Bays of Richwood, OH.

The students have learned five dances and have been travelling to different elementary schools to perform since the second week of spring quarter. These travels will continue until week nine. Hernandez explains the dances to the elementary students while the ONU students perform them.

The ONU students also performed the dances at ONU on April 6.

“It’s a completely new form of dance for us. It’s the real stuff,” says Rumbaugh of the experience. “He’s (Hernandez) has danced professionally; he’s lived this.”

Rumbaugh cites the fancy handmade costumes they were provided as one of the major obstacles to learning the dances.

“They were very pretty and intricate, but had tons of accessories. Handling those things while learning the footwork was definitely a challenge,” she says. “It’s not something you see every day. It will probably never happen again and it was a pretty unique cultural experience.”