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Puerto Rico: Istanbul felt the Puerto Rican Rhythm

By Natalia A. Bonilla-Berrios

ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Probably, people heard them singing or talking out loud in the commons areas after midnight. Or they saw them dancing a couple of salsa steps in almost every corner of the Yildiz University Technical Campus in Istanbul, Turkey, without any particular reason.

Salsa Workshop2.jpgEither way, it wasn’t long before attendees of the 5th World Youth Congress (WYC) in Turkey knew when members of the Puerto Rican delegation were nearby.

Puerto Rican Young Artist Andres Walmar Waldemar introduces salsa to attendees of the 5th World Youth Congress by beginning the workshop with a brief story of Puerto Rican culture.
(Photo credit: Mariely Correa)

Puerto Rican Young Artist Andres Walmar Waldemar was one of the members of the Island’s delegation to offer a workshop at the World Youth Congress. His theme was Feel the Latin Rhythm and it could not have been more appropriate.

“This opportunity to impact people from over 100 nations is not something you can have every day,” Waldemar said.

More than 40 young students from diverse regions gathered in the university’s Sports Hall to learn more about Caribbean rhythm. With help from songs by Roberto Roena and Ismael Rivera, they enjoyed learning the movements that have given Puerto Rico such recognition around the world.

Salsa Workshop4.jpg
Students tap into the salsa rhythm by learning the basics.
(Photo credit: Mariely Correa)

Muge Hanilci, Turkish leader of a family group at WYC, attended the event to capture the rhythm and try to understand why it was so related to Puerto Rico. “It’s so energetic and you can move every part of your body. It did reflect the Puerto Rican nature,” she said.

According to the workshop’s DJ, Manuel Gavillán-Acevedo, “music broke the barriers of language and culture” after witnessing how delegates crowded onto the basketball court, as if two famous teams were really playing.

“It was impressive to see all the people that came, we didn’t expect it,” he added.

Since that night, it wasn’t uncommon to hear international delegates greet the Island’s university students with the words “Puerto Rico…Salsa!”, something that humbled and surprised them.

“Maybe through salsa we can steal a smile out of people who were having a bad day,” said Waldemar.

Theatrical workshop 2.jpg
Delegates gather for a group picture.
(Photo credit: Mariely Correa)

However, it wasn’t only the Island’s rhythm that was shared at the WYC. Cristian Miranda, Keanne Vallejo, Natalia Bigay and other Island delegates presented another workshop that exemplified how natural the arts are in Puerto Rican life — “Using theatrical arts as tools to community development.”

The WYC ran from July31 through August 13, 2010.


Learn more about Natalia


Natalia A. Bonilla Berrios is a junior at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) majoring in Journalism and minoring in Political Science, International Relations. Natalia has a 3.90 GPA.

She was the former president of the UPR student chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, a member of the National Society of Collegiates and Scholars and was selected for the ‘Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges’ program, during her freshman year.

In addition, she has worked as an intern reporter for Diálogo Digital, Puerto Rican Center of Investigative Journalism, served as a staff writer for Paréntesis newspaper, and as a volunteer reporter for IDentidad magazine.

Bonilla has served as student representative for the Freedom of the Press Center of Puerto Rico and has been selected as one of the UWIRE’s Top 100 Student Journalists of 2009.




She was selected for the Student Camp at Unity 2008, the quadrennial Journalists of Color Convention and also, as a volunteer for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy.


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