LEXINGTON, Ky. — It was a busy weekend with the city’s annual Festival Latino taking place. Casa de la Cultura Kentucky, a nonprofit with a mission to help young Latine people reconnect with their culture, had a couple dance groups perform at the festival on Saturday.
Monica Calleja is the director and founder of Casa de la Cultura. She is originally from Mexico City and moved to Lexington in 2001. She saw a need to create a space where Hispanic culture could be taught to Latine people, mostly children, to instill a sense of pride in them.
“Little things bring the whole family together and bring the tradition back to the families and creates a point of getting back again together,” said Calleja.
Calleja started Casa de la Cultura 10 years ago with a piñata-making class and it has evolved to other things such as giving dance classes and having an embroidery club. Adults talk to children in Spanish and encourage them to speak it back to them. Calleja says that she has received positive feedback from parents about her nonprofit.
“When you ask them, ‘What do you think about the program?’ They always say that they like the opportunity for the kids to remember their culture,” said Calleja.
Claudia Gomez has had her daughter enrolled in dance classes with Casa de la Cultura for about four years. The organization has weekly dance classes and different groups to teach people of all ages.
“I’m from Mexico and I feel a lot of emotion. I even scream with excitement seeing her dance, tapping her feet, how she enjoys using our cultural clothing,” said Gomez.
Taking pride in their roots and in being different is what Calleja hopes the kids take away from the programs offered through Casa de la Cultura.
The nonprofit’s next event is its annual Dia de los Muertos Festival on Nov. 2.