Students celebrate heritage


Jessica GuerrucciManaging Editor

National Hispanic American Heritage Month kicked off on campus with performances from a salsa band, food, dancing and an opportunity for students to learn about a different culture.

“We want to educate that we have a say on this campus, even though we are a minority group. We are here, we are here to shout our voice out, whatever the situation is,” said president of the Organization for Latin American Students, Chelsey Cerrato.

Fiesta Latina was held on Sept. 18 to bring together all the Latin American organizations on campus and give them a chance to connect with students and celebrate their heritage.

According to the National Hispanic Heritage Month website, “The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15.”

Rather than just being the month of September, advisor for OLAS, Anna Rivera-Alfaro, said the celebration is held from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 because of its importantance in history.

“It starts at that weird time because there are a number of Latin countries that gained their independence, five of them exactly, so that kicks off the month,” said Rivera-Alfaro.

Coordinator for the Multicultural Center, Dian Brown-Albert said the event was social with a small educational twist. Students, she said had the chance to spin a wheel, answer questions and learn about Hispanic American history.

“It’s for the campus community overall,” said Brown-Albert. “So, the campus community can learn about Latin organizations, Hispanic culture, and it brings people together from all different walks of life.”

Undecided major Ariana Taylor, a freshman, said she enjoyed the food, music and the welcoming and friendly “vibe” the event had to offer. However, Taylor said she did not know much about Hispanic American culture.

“That’s kind of why I came, because I want to learn more, which is always exciting to have a place where I can learn more,” said Taylor. “In my high school they didn’t really celebrate that, so coming to a college where they value that sort of thing is really nice.”

Part of the event was bringing awareness to the campus community and sharing culture. Undecided major, Zvleyka Pereira, a freshman, said it was good to get everyone involved, including people from various cultures, and give them a taste of Hispanic culture and heritage so they could become familiarized with the people, music and food.

“It’s good because I feel like it’s usually not recognized as much, especially Latin American Month is not really as big of a deal as other cultures,” said Pereira. “I feel like it’s good to bring attention to it, especially on a college campus.”

For therapeutic recreation major, Aleysia Watson, a freshman, said being at Fiesta Latina made her feel comfortable and safe because it showed that Southern cares about minority groups.

“I think it’s very mindful for our minorities here on campus and it shows that they are appreciated as well as everyone else,” said Watson. Even though National Hispanic American Heritage Month lasts for a short time, Rivera-Alfaro said for her it never ends. She said at least it is an opportunity to bring awareness and share the culture.

“I really just want them to learn, to learn about other cultures, to experience,” said Rivera-Alfaro. “You know, in today’s world we really need to understand each other.”

Photo credit: Izzy Manzo

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