Life for a Dominican Republican college student in the U.S. can be vastly different from the life of a student born and raised as an American. Cesar Pestana, a senior music education major, provides insights into the diversity he experiences every day as a student at Union College.
Pestana grew up in the Dominican Republic with his mother, brother, grandparents and cousins. Pestana’s grandfather was the head of the household.
In his home, lunchtime gave his family an opportunity to spend time together. The dishes served during meal times are of importance to the Pestana’s culture, but most of the foods Pestana and other Dominicans are accustomed to eating cannot be found in Nebraska. His only opportunity to eat these dishes, such as fried or boiled plantains, occur when he visits family.
Pestana also enjoys stews, which typically consist of fruits, potatoes and meats.
While food is an important part of many cultures, music does not take second place. There are two types of music genres native to the Dominican Republic, both commonly used for dance, called merengue and bachata.
Merengue integrates the music of African, French and Haitian cultures. In the 1920s, this music was listened to by the poor and later integrated into the elite culture in the 1950s. It is now a genre that defines the Dominican Republic.
Bachata boasts more of a cultural mix, with Cuban and other Caribbean influences.
While food, family and music are important, personal success is an indicator of importance and standing in the Dominican Republic. Interestingly, success also takes on another definition we are less familiar with in the United States. Pestana shared that success is not necessarily making large sums of money. Rather, it is doing what one loves, and one thing leading Pestana to success is education.
This May, Pestana will graduate with a degree in music education. This degree will give him the ability to teach K-12. Pestana enjoys working with primary and secondary school children. He mentioned that each age group is enjoyable to work with for different reasons.
Pestana is an integral part of the Union College family, and he will be greatly missed. Although he says that he has enjoyed the accessibility and affordability of education at Union College, he misses his home country and looks forward to visiting after his graduation.
Angel Phillips is a sophomore studying business administration.