SU Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
By: Melissa Fox
Between September 15 and October 15, the U.S. will honor the achievements, cultural traditions, and history of Hispanics and Latino Americans in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month.
A Hispanic heritage commemoration was put in place 25 years ago by Lyndon B. Johnson and expanded in 1988 by Ronald Reagan from a commemorative week to a commemorative month. Moreover, its dates concur with a number of Hispanic countries’ independence days across the globe, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile.
Here at Southwestern, a number of projects are in the works for this year’s Hispanic Heritage celebration.
“We have students who are doing just amazing projects; we have faculty who are putting together speakers,” associate professor of philosophy Omar Rivera said.
For one such event, Elizabeth De La Portilla will give what is hoped to be the first in a series of annual lectures concerning Hispanic tradition. De La Portilla is currently an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at San Antonio College. Her studies include Curanderismo, ethnobotany of the Southwest, identity theory, and the language of race; further, she is the author of the book They All Want Magic: Curanderas and Folk Healing.
De La Portilla’s lecture is scheduled to be set on September 25 and will be followed by a meet and greet luncheon, wherein students and faculty alike will be able to speak with De La Portilla about her views as well as her work.
In addition, SU will offer a presentation on Latina History. Faculty and students will work together to provide the university an acknowledgment of the incredible contributions that Latinas have given to the world.
Also, in the early stages of development, the Paideia cluster North by South will host a Taco Lunch for students to mingle and converse about the application of this cluster with relation to the world at large. Furthermore, a documentary and discussion session is being considered as a means by which students can learn and comment on how Hispanic heritage is prevalent in their own lives. Finally, a salsa night may also be in the works. Students would be able to socialize and have fun while still experiencing Hispanic culture.
“What’s happening at the university, with the introduction of race and ethnicity studies, and working in conjunction with Latin American Border Studies and feminist studies, there’s a lot of research and student activity…on Latino and Latina issues,” Rivera said.
The Hispanic and Latino/Latina American population of Southwestern has been growing over the last few years.
“I think it’s great that SU is starting to see some momentum surrounding the recognition of Hispanic and Latino culture,” said senior Jo Liza Barrera.
Similarly, other students at Southwestern feel as though this diversity is necessary to a truly liberal arts education.
“I think that an increase in any ethnicity is great. It raises awareness of the associated groups around campus,” senior Stephanie De Los Santos said. The increase of the Latino population is especially exciting for me because some Latino oriented (but not Latino exclusive) groups such as Latinos Unidos, Amigas and, my sorority, Kappa Delta Chi are now gaining more attention and support, whereas, before, these groups were largely pushed to the background.”