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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

A sneak-peek into the unique booths at Friday’s Culture Fair

CULTURE+%26+CONNECTION.+Freshman+Florence+Barrera+has+helped+assemble+a+booth+for+Mexican+culture+to+be+presented+at+the+Jan.+26+Culture+Fair.+Barreras+dad%2C+a+Mexican+immigrant%2C+has+helped+supply+her+with+candies+and+goods+through+his+connections+to+local+Mexican+businesses.+Theres+a+rich+culture+to+%5BMexico%5D%2C+and+I+just+want+people+to+see+that%2C+they+said.+%28Submitted+Photo%3A+Florence+Barrera%29
CULTURE & CONNECTION. Freshman Florence Barrera has helped assemble a booth for Mexican culture to be presented at the Jan. 26 Culture Fair. Barrera’s dad, a Mexican immigrant, has helped supply her with candies and goods through his connections to local Mexican businesses. “There’s a rich culture to [Mexico], and I just want people to see that,” they said. (Submitted Photo: Florence Barrera)

As part of Community Day on Jan. 26, the Culture Fair will allow students to showcase different elements of their identity to the broader community through exhibitions like booths and posters. Sophomore William Hanna and freshman Florence Barrera are preparing their booths ahead of time to bring meaningful knowledge and understanding to an essential aspect of themselves.
Hanna, alongside the affinity group Rainbow Connection, is helping create a booth to educate others about the history of the queer community. Hanna admitted that the concept of a culture fair has required some reworking, as the meaning of culture within the queer community carries a unique weight.
“We don’t have as much of a common culture, I guess,” Hanna said. They explained that the traditional iconography associated with the queer community, such as drag, can be inclusive for some but not all.
“…something that’s hard is that there’s also a lot of people who are completely disconnected from that and who that doesn’t really represent,” they said. For this reason, Hanna and Rainbow Connection are taking more of an informative approach.
“That’s kind of the thing that binds the community together more than anything, our shared history,” they said.
Hanna believes that while SPA tends to be inclusive of queer culture, there is an “unintended side effect” of students forgetting the difficult history.
“You could get fired from your job [for being queer] until, like, recently. Fully thrown in jail, and publicly executed, just absolutely ridiculous stuff until not that long ago… Most people our age have only seen the era of the queer community where we are able to be open and be who we are in public, but I think they miss a lot of the weight that carries for us,” they said.
Hanna added that in recognizing queer history, it is vital to acknowledge the path that the nation is heading on in the present.
“In a lot of places in the country… queer rights are regressing,” Hanna said, emphasizing that understanding queer history is relevant to navigating the current political atmosphere. Hanna and Rainbow Connection will do their part through posters and a selection of library books.

I haven’t been the most connected to my culture, but I’ve tried a lot to kind of reach out to it.

— Florence Barrera

Fellow participant Barrera will have a table for Mexican culture, complete with candies and decorations.
“I was kind of approached to do it, and I was like, ‘sure, sounds fun,’” she said.
Barrera’s connection to Mexican culture comes from her Mexican immigrant dad.
“I haven’t been the most connected to my culture, but I’ve tried a lot to kind of reach out to it,” she said. “We celebrate Day of the Dead, we celebrate Three Kings Day. He makes a lot of amazing Mexican cuisine, and I have a mask from my grandfather, who was a luchador in the sixties,” she said. Barrera noted that while SPA “isn’t the most diverse,” noting the tiny Hispanic population, the fair has the potential to bridge that gap of cultural respect and awareness. Barrera, in particular, has a specific goal in mind.
“I hope people see that it’s a beautiful culture, because I feel like a lot people can think Mexico can be this crime-riddled, drug-ridden place. And places can be like that, but it’s the same wherever you go. Like, there are a lot of poor places and heavy crime rates in America, and I think a lot of people kind of discard the quaintness of Mexico and a lot of the cities and villages there,” they said.
On Friday, Hanna and Barrera will be, amongst others, sharing aspects of their identity through Community Day’s culture fair.

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About the Contributor
Johanna Pierach, In Depth Editor
My name is Johanna Pierach (she/her). I’m the In Depth Editor for The Rubicon. At school, I’m involved in the Junior Class Leadership Council, HerSpace, IRIS, and KnitWits. I also compete for the Cross Country, Nordic, and Track teams. I love to thrift and go to concerts. I can be reached at [email protected].

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