Students to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

The department of modern languages and the International Culture and Language Association (ICALA) will be finishing the semester with a fiesta in celebration of Cinco de Mayo this Saturday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Faculty Hall.

Susan Drake, assistant professor of Spanish, is the adviser for ICALA. She said the event is going to double as a recognition ceremony for outstanding students in the department and outgoing seniors, as well as a celebration of Mexican culture.

“We want to take this time to recognize the seniors from our department and those outstanding students that have worked so hard,” she said.

Cinco de Mayo has long been a staple in American party holidays, especially among areas with a concentrated Mexican-American population. Still, it has transformed over the last several years into a major celebration and holiday in the U.S. – even more so than in Mexico. Drake said more Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo than Mexicans.

She said one of the reasons this holiday has become so popular here is because of the pride it gives Mexican-Americans and their homeland because of its historical meaning.

Cinco de Mayo translates literally to “fifth of May” and marks the date of a Mexican victory against France in the state of Puebla in the late 1800s. In this battle, the Mexican army was able to defeat the stronger French army, with fewer weapons and forces.

“For people of Mexican descent, this has become a really neat thing,” she said. “It has become a part of their identity, too, as strong individuals.”

ICALA hosts several cultural events during the school year, with events celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest and other popular cultural holidays.

“Though we have hosted many events throughout the academic year, this is kind of like our finale” she said. “Here we are all able to get together before everyone separates for the summer and have a nice time.”

Students outside of ICALA are often in attendance at these events.

Kelsey Michel, freshman from Chesterfield, Mo., has frequented the cultural events since coming to Murray State and beginning her Spanish minor.

“They always announce these events in the beginning of my classes, especially those associated with culture clubs,” Michel said.

With many students opting to learn a foreign language throughout their college career, Murray State offers many culturally based events for all languages and cultures. This is meant to expose as many students as possible to the different cultures of the world.

“I really like attending these culture events because many times they share things that you don’t really get to in classes and go much more in depth,” she said. “I always enjoy myself.”

Students outside of the department of modern languages are also welcome to attend. ICALA will be providing tacos and a variety of door prizes. For those interested, there is a recommended donation of $1 to help fund these programs.

For more information about ICALA or the Cinco de Mayo celebration, contact Drake at