Angelica Luna, Correspondent
Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is recognized as National Hispanic Heritage Month. This month celebrates and honors the contributions, traditions and history of Americans who connect themselves to Hispanic or Latin ancestry.
In 1988, Hispanic heritage was given a month to bring awareness to all Hispanic Americans and enrich our nation’s cultural diversity. Nationally, Hispanic Heritage month is celebrated through festivals, community gatherings and traditions within families.
Multiple organizations at Jacksonville State University have put together events to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, while still maintaining safety protocols.
Because of safety regulations, everyone is required to wear a mask and will be distanced six feet apart at all events. Other regulations such as signing up for pick up of food will be in place depending on the event. Weather events may also postpone or change the location.
On Thursday morning, students and staff enjoyed Latin food and music at Tacos on the Quad. Free tacos were given to students, as they were entertained by traditional music. Attendees were able to experience a small taste of Hispanic heritage and spend time with each other.
Arlene Flores, a member of JSU’s Hispanic Opertunity Partners in Education commitee, played a key role in putting on the event.
“The sub-commitee was formed to advocate for the LatinX students on campus,” Flores said. “Our new director told us to organize this event this year.”
The International Student Organization and the International House and Programs are hosting a Coffee Break on Tuesday, Sept. 22 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. This event will give students, faculty and staff the opportunity to taste authentic Hispanic coffees and desserts. Hispanic Heritage month is usually celebrated with a glance into traditional Hispanic treats. The event will be postponed in the case of inclement weather.
On Thursday, Sept. 24 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Lance Ingwersen, a JSU assistant professor of history and foreign languages, will be hosting a virtual presentation, panel and Q&A session on Microsoft Teams. He will be diving into the history of traditional Latin American foods and the cultural impact Latin Americans have on the diversity of America. Following the virtual discussions, a variety of raffle prizes will be rewarded.
At the Alumni Lawn on Thursday, Oct. 1, students can experience the viewing of “Like Water for Chocolate” from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. This movie takes place in a town near the Mexican border around 1910, and explores a forbidden love story between a young couple dedicated to their individual duties and their passionate feelings. This movie will be shown in Spanish with English subtitles to fully immerse viewers in the experience. The event will be held at Leone Cole Auditorium if the weather calls for a location change.
On Thursday, Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations will conclude with a performance of the Jacksonville State University Latin Ensemble. This performance will be accompanied with traditional desserts and special guests Aurela Ugarte, owner of Heirloom Taco, and Amado Ortiz, owner of Red Threads. Throughout the program, door prizes will be rewarded to students, faculty, staff and alumni that attend. In the case of inclement weather, the event will be streamed online.
Students and faculty that celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month are excited to take part in on-campus events, and also involve themselves with their families traditional celebrations. Members of the student body spoke out with pride they hold for their culture and background.
Asked about her views on Hispanic Heritage Month and the importance of honoring diversity, SGA Vice President of Student Senate Cindy Danini expresses that this month is a time to “celebrate cultural diversity in our society.” She stresses the importance of highlighting cultures in a way that brings conversations and questions.
To Danini, this month is a great opportunity to bridge societal gaps and change the way we think about and interact with others. She has experienced Mexican culture from her parents, and greatly appreciates everything they have sacrificed in order to help her and her brother grow. She fondly looks back on memories within her family’s culture such as “dancing to cumbias in the living room, playing loteria around the kitchen table”, and always having fresh tortillas when it came time to enjoy a meal together.
She considers being born to Mexican parents “such a special gift,” and plans to celebrate her family and their history with authentic Mexican food and appreciation for her culture.
“I love being able to share my culture with my friends, and I truly believe that it brings us closer together because they’re learning about a part of me that has shaped who I am and always will be,” said Danini.
There are many members of the Latin American community within the students, staff and faculty of Jacksonville State University who take extraordinary pride in the culture they grew up within. This month is a time for those who are honored to be descendants of Latin/Hispanic roots to express their pride in their history.
For more information about Hispanic Heritage Month information and events, visit JSU’s website.
Copy Editor Ashley Phillips contributed reporting on this story.