An upcoming community event on Mercer’s campus will be a cultural celebration as well as an educational opportunity.
Mercer’s Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors (FIVA) cohort has partnered with Spanish news station NotiVisión Georgia to host the Hispanic Heritage Celebration concert from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 16 at Willingham Auditorium on the Macon campus. The free community concert comes at the end of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates the history, culture and contributions of Hispanics and Latinos. Attendees are asked to wear masks.
Accomplished violinist, composer and conductor Juan Ramírez Hernández is the artistic director for the concert, which will feature about a dozen members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. There will also be performances by Mexican soprano Sindy Gutierrez and Guatemalan musical groups Marimba Maderas Del Volcan and Mariachi Búhos de Oro, said Dr. Jose Pino, associate professor of Spanish and FIVA adviser.
“They’re going to play great music and songs emblematic of the Hispanic culture,” he said. “People can enjoy, have fun and also learn something about the Hispanic culture. I hope everybody can join us.”
Earlier this year, 20 Mercer students were selected for the FIVA initiative, through which they have been doing public outreach to decrease vaccine hesitancy and increase vaccination rates. The group has focused many of its efforts on the Hispanic community and other marginalized populations where vaccination hesitancy may be high, and the concert is another opportunity to connect with local residents.
“We have been in contact with (the community) through different activities and campaigns, town halls as well as school events, open houses and religious events,” Dr. Pino said. “They talk about vaccine hesitancy and any questions, and then we offer (vaccine) clinics as well. Our students are not only helping the community but they are also learning from the community by embracing their cultural understanding and cultural competence. … It’s not only about vaccine clinics or town halls but some artistic celebration.”
The group’s ambassadors will be at the concert to give out information about the COVID-19 vaccine and how to receive it and answer questions.
Several consul generals are set to attend, including Javier Díaz de León, representative for Mexico; Angelina Williams, Honduras; Mónica Marín, El Salvador; and Telma Borrayo, Guatemala.
In addition, representatives for the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Latino Community Fund Georgia, Salvadoreños Unidos en Georgia, Latin American Association, Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, Migrant Equity Southeast, Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety, Macon’s Office of Community Affairs, Macon Crimestoppers, Warner Robins Police Department, several area churches, and the cities of Warner Robins, Centerville and Perry are planning to attend.