Dominican celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

October 20, 2015

By Melissa Rohman

The transition from September to October is usually celebrated with colorful leaves, pumpkin spice lattes and oversized sweaters. However, it is also a time to celebrate Hispanic Heritage through the celebration of Hispanic culture as well as contributions made by and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino/a Americans in the United States.

According to U.S. Census Bureau, there are roughly 54 million Hispanics living in the United States, representing approximately 17% of the U.S. total population. September 15 through October 15 is nationally recognized as Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States and here at Dominican.

“To me, Hispanic Heritage Month here at DU is really about celebrating and spreading awareness of the various cultures that exist in our Latin backgrounds and countries,” said Anissa Vega, vice-president of OLA (Organization of Latin American Students).

Though assistant professor of Spanish Rogelia Lily Ibarra proclaims that having technically only a month long celebration is no excuse to not celebrate Hispanic heritage all year round.

“I think that we should celebrate the achievements of Latino/as and other people of color year round,” said Lily Ibarra. “However, reserving a month-long space to celebrate Latino/as is not only effective but also necessary to bring visibility to the accomplishments of a significant population of our university and our country.”

OLA president Liz Lozano said, “We also think HHM is important because it spreads awareness and knowledge to those who may have never celebrated the month or attended an event about Hispanic Heritage. It promotes diversity here on campus and gives everyone a chance to participate. It is great to be exposed to various cultures and gain more knowledge and we believe it is a great way to preserve our culture and keep it going.”

The month-long celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month at Dominican has included a variety of events, gatherings and presentations among many other things. The Rebecca Crown Library kicked off the celebration with the annual flag staircase display showcasing the national flags of 23 Latin American countries. On September 24, OLA held its annual welcome picnic in the quad that included a taco buffet, music and games. October 13 was a day of Latin American food tasting, music and a mariachi band in the Social Hall. Dominican welcomed critically acclaimed Guatemalan film director and producer Luis Argueta on September 17. Argueta presented a lecture along with his documentary “Abrazos” in the Martin Recital Hall. “Abrazos” is about a group of United States citizen children who travel from Minnesota to Guatemala to meet their grandparents for the first time, presenting the issue of the separation and unification of families affected by the United States immigration system.

The office of academic success and diversity, the Dominican University alumnae/i association, and OLA hosted the 12th Annual Hispanic Heritage Reception. This reception honored one Latina or Latino Dominican alum with an award for their service for Latinos and/or in Latino communities accompanied with food and music to celebrate.

University Ministry also sponsored three events to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month. These events included a Hispanic Heritage Mass in the Rosary Chapel, a convivencia (a get together with food, music, and Folkloric dance) and a trip to the National Museum of Mexican Art. On October 27, there will be an altar installation and a prater service to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Hispanic Heritage Month no doubt is a month of celebration that is open for every one of all cultures and ethnicities to enjoy. It is also for many a month of recognition, pride, and a chance to break down barriers that are established in society between different cultures and groups of people.

“We believe it is extremely important that we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month,” said Lozano. “It is really about Latinos needing to see fellow Latinos celebrated and honored just as much as other ethnicities and cultures are. It stimulates more than just pride but a connection with our ancestors and the traditions they passed down to us within our culture.”

Ibarra said, “The history of Latino/as in the U.S. is still invisible or misconstrued; we continue to have negative discourses in this country regarding immigration and lack accessibility to positions of authority. Therefore, a celebration that gives voice to the voiceless, makes Latino/as more visible, can also begin to break down barriers and make the unknown familiar and hopefully embraced.”