‘Discover Campeche’

Janereth Vargas Cervera dances in a colorful ornate costume from her home country of Mexico.
Janereth Vargas Cervera performs a folkloric dance in a colorful ornate costume.
Exchange student Janereth Vargas Cervera will perform folkloric dancing from her home country of Mexico as part of Discover Campeche, an event by Stetson’s Latin American Studies program, on Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rinker Welcome Center.

Janereth Vargas Cervera has traveled around her home country of Mexico, performing traditional folkloric dances and once even danced for the princess of Japan.

The visiting exchange student arrived at Stetson University earlier this month from her home city of Campeche, Mexico, where folk dancing is a deeply rooted tradition. Performed in elaborate colorful costumes, the dances have Spanish and Caribbean roots depicting elements of everyday life for the locals, as well as the upper class.

“The folkloric dance is very upbeat,” said Vargas, 22, who is living in a Stetson residence hall on the DeLand campus for six weeks while attending classes. “There are two basic styles: The Sarao Campechano is more elegant, and the Fiesta del Palmar is a little more playful.”

Vargas will perform some of the dances Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center, Lynn Presentation Room, as part of the Discover Campeche program.

Robert Sitler, Ph.D., director of the Latin American Studies Program, will provide an introduction to the city and state of Campeche on the western Yucatan Peninsula with photos from his trips there. Cultural Credit will be provided for the event.

In Mexico, Vargas attends the Instituto Campechano and majors in art education, with a dream of one day opening a dance academy back home. She is a member of the Ballet Folklorico de Campeche and has performed throughout Mexico, sponsored by the Campeche state Secretary of Culture. 

Robert Sitler

Dancers from the art education program at the Instituto Campechano will perform on Stetson’s DeLand campus on April 16.

Campeche has been a Sister City of Volusia County since 1995, and Stetson’s Latin American Studies program has maintained a student exchange with the Instituto Campechano for more than 20 years, said Sitler, a professor of World Languages and Cultures. Applications are required for the 2018 Campeche internship by March 16.

“Our students go down there every summer,” Sitler said. “They are often teaching English. They’ve worked doing translations in the tourism office and helped out with a sea turtle conservation program.”

Street scene in Campeche, Mexico, will buildings brightly painted in colorful pastel colors.
Campeche, Mexico, has been left off the tourism map, so visitors will see few tourists there, said Professor Bob Sitler. The state of Campeche includes the ruins of the largest ancient Mayan city, Calakmul. The city of Campeche, above, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its beautiful colonial architecture.

Stetson student Tyler Thomas stayed with Vargas’ family in Campeche last summer. And through that experience, Vargas learned of the opportunity to travel here – her first trip to America.

She is taking classes at Stetson — Principles of Acting, Dance Appreciation, French and Portuguese – and staying in Emily Hall, which is a novelty because Mexican colleges do not have residence halls. She keeps busy by going to the gym, and taking Zumba classes, cardio boxing, ballet and ballroom dancing, as well as visiting local parks with Sitler and his wife, June.

“For me, Stetson is marvelous. It’s very modern, very cutting edge,” she said. “My experience has been meeting a lot of really very nice people. … I like how there are so many cultures here because that’s not the case so much at home. It’s so important to maintain that cordiality and respect in a multicultural environment.”