March 21, 2017

SIU to host ‘Soldiers Who Salsa,’ Latin Dance Party

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Salsa is a lifelong passion for Southern Illinois University Carbondale alumnus Julio Barrenzuela and this week, he returns to his alma mater for a pair of special events focusing on the popular social dance form.

All student and area veterans and their spouses or partners are invited to attend “Soldiers Who Salsa” from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, March 24, in the Student Recreation Center’s West Gymnasium. It’s a free interactive and informative presentation. Donations of non-perishable food items, to benefit the Saluki Food Pantry, will be accepted.

Then, from 9 to 11 p.m. all SIU students are invited to join in a Latin Dance Party led by Barrenzuela. Sponsored by SIU Recreational Sports and Services, Veterans Services and the Student Programming Council, the event is open to anyone with a valid SIU student ID and there’s no cost to attend.

Barrenzuela, the self-proclaimed “Salsa Ambassador,” taught salsa dance lessons while attending SIU; he graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and intercultural communications. He received professional development training in Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Think Tank on Global Education from 2012-2013 and earned his master’s degree in media for social justice in 2016 from Woodbury University in Burbank, Calif.

A veteran of the U. S. Navy, Barrenzuela combined his desire to make a difference in the lives of others with his passion for dance and now serves as outreach coordinator for “Soldiers Who Salsa,” based in San Diego, Calif.

The mission of “Soldiers Who Salsa” is to enhance and enrich the lives of military personnel and their families through the program incorporating therapeutic dance, professional instruction and music. Patients at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in California and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland participate in the classes, bringing their significant others to join them as they learn together. Although originally launched to help those who had had amputations, the program has expanded to also serve individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries and with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

To learn more about Barrenzuela’s salsa events at SIU, contact Sally Wright at 618/453-2511.