After a hiatus in 2020 due to COVID, WHINSEC personnel came together to showcase their culture and heritage through educational demonstrations, food, music, and dance.
FORT BENNING, GA – After a hiatus in 2020 due to COVID, members of WHINSEC came together here the evening of September 23 to celebrate the 19th annual WHINSEC’s traditional "bocadillos" event where all countries share their unique foods, drink, music, and culture.
“Bocadillos,” meaning (Snacks), is an outreach event. This social gathering is where partner nations showcase their culture and heritage. The event promotes WHINSEC by increasing mutual trust and confidence, building partner nation relationships, and fostering enduring partnerships outside the formal, day-to-day classroom environment.
This year the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) Royal Netherlands Army Liaison Office joined the countries of USA, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, México, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, and Uruguay. LTC Paul & Mrs. Cathy van der Valk and CSM Johan & Mrs. Mira van de Voort graciously accepted and provided a booth as well.
“The experience was tremendous - especially to intermingle with all the different Nations and literally learning about their culture by tasting their food & drink and joining in the conversations about their countries. The experience has enriched us, and we are grateful to the WHINSEC for hosting us,” expressed Van Der Valk.
Colonel John D. Suggs Jr., WHINSEC’s commandant, welcomed everyone to the return of the yearly celebration by WHINSEC.
Suggs commented, “This is an opportunity for all of our students and cadre who work at WHINSEC to show their pride in their nation, in their flags, their national foods, and their national costumes at one time for the benefit of the whole community.”
He said his favorite part is watching the different countries perform and showcase their skills like dancing and singing. He said he hopes the festival will be able to welcome more people next year.
For Belizean Defense Force Partner Nation Instructor Staff Sergeant (MSG) Freddy Villeda was a tremendous experience. Villeda is here with his wife, and they both ran the Belize booth.
“For us, it was a wonderful interactive multicultural experience. Whereby the factor "family" participation is the maximum exponent. And putting Belize in this kind of platforms is more than rewarding and we are very grateful to WHINSEC for putting this event together,” commented Villeda.
Another first-timer at the event was Panama National Police Partner Nation Instructor Major Alexander Camaño. With the help of fellow Panamanians here at the Institute, they ran the booth for Panamá.
“It was a pleasure for fellow Panamanians and me to showcase some of our folklore and our gastronomy with the other nations of the Hemisphere. I saw the brotherhood between our nations when we joyfully share as a family moments like this. We felt like one country, like at home’ and I would have liked for it to last longer, that the moment would not end because we felt happy with good company, food, and music. This activity shows the true feelings of our nations, for each other. Long live WHINSEC, Peace, Liberty and Fraternity,” said Camaño.
The yearly event is typically held around the September to October timeframe, coinciding with the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.
Mrs. Adela G. Duncan, the Director of Communications and Outreach at WHINSEC, said the festival is organized for about 20 weeks before the day. The community looks forward to the event every year.
“I love their food, and I can’t ever choose. Everybody will always ask me which one is my favorite, I do not have a favorite, and it is all so delicious. Also the love, cause they made the food with love and that’s the Latino culture so it’s expressed tonight,” said Duncan.