National Hispanic Heritage Month begins today with the “Kick off Fiesta” outside of the Lory Student Center.
“The kick off is my favorite part,” said Francisco Guajardo, a senior construction management major. “Kids from elementary schools come, so we have pi/atas for them. We get to act like role models.”
“The month is a celebration of all Latino cultures,” said Zulema Sierra, a senior technical journalism major. “It’s important for people to know and to be aware of the diversity of all Latinos. Here everyone thinks Latino means Mexican.”
According to the El Centro Student Services Web site, the United States started to celebrate Hispanic contributions in 1968, when Congress approved Hispanic Heritage Week. It wasn’t until 1988 that Congress designated a whole month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
One of the most anticipated events is the fifth annual Evening of Music and Dance on Oct. 5.
“It’s huge, really good and free,” Sierra said. “Last year’s band was amazing, I can’t wait for this year’s.”
This year Manuel Molina & his Latin Jazz Combo Caliente will be featured at the event.
Also, as part of the Monfort Lecture Series, former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo will speak Sept.28 at Moby Arena.
While he is visiting specifically for Hispanic Heritage Month, some said it does add to the festivities.
“The most exciting thing for me is seeing the old president,” said Alex Dominguez, a senior history major. “It’s like seeing Bill Clinton for most people; it’s great to finally be able to make your own opinion of him.”
The best part of the month for Lupe Salazar, director of El Centro, is seeing the students come together and make connections with other students across campus.
“We invite everyone to join us for the celebration,” Salazar said. “I love the fact that we have this opportunity, to provide this to the whole campus and community.”
Salazar also said that even though Sept. 16 is Mexican Independence Day, this month is for all of the Spanish-speaking countries that comprise the student population on campus.
Students and faculty are integral in organizing the different events of the month.
“A lot of students and faculty work to bring this together,” Sierra said. “It’s up to us to take the initiative and keep our culture.”
Staff writer Graham Button can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kick off Fiesta
Sutherland Garden Plaza, Lory Student Center