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Saint Mary’s club celebrates Hispanic Heritage month

| Thursday, September 21, 2017

La Fuerza, the Latina cultural club at Saint Mary’s, began its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with a kick-off event Thursday. It will continue to observe the month over the next several weeks with a series of events, closing Hispanic Heritage month with a celebration of Hispanic culture, the organization’s president Roxana Martinez said.

“This month we are hoping to have our first celebration dinner, just kind of celebrating Hispanic Heritage month,” Martinez said.

Although they are still in the process of finalizing plans, Martinez hopes to have Sam Centellas, executive director of La Casa De Amistad, speak at the dinner.

“We think that would be a great connection and bridge towards the community and vice versa,” Martinez said.

Centellas advocates on behalf of the Hispanic community in South Bend, Martinez said.

Students participate in the guacamole making contest at an event, hosted by Saint Mary's Latina culture club, La Fuerza, marking the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. Courtesy of Genesis Vasquez

Students participate in the guacamole making contest at an event, hosted by Saint Mary’s Latina culture club, La Fuerza, marking the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. Tyler Davis, standing to the far-right, won the contest.

“Especially right now in such difficult times, he is doing a lot of promotion for the Latina community and advocating for the DACA students,” Martinez said. “He is a member of our community that I think really embodies celebrating Hispanic culture and celebrating who you are as a Hispanic person in the United States.”

In previous years, La Fuerza has put on several Hispanic Heritage Month events. However, Martinez said this year they put all of their energy into the Kick-Off and celebration dinner.

“Last year we tried to do a lot, and our quality was not as great,” Martinez said. “So then this year, we are definitely focusing on quality over quantity. In the past we have done a few more events for Hispanic Heritage month, but this year we are focusing on doing a quality or better event.”

Martinez said this dinner is important to the club because it allows them to recognize their individual cultures and diversity.

“It’s just important to celebrate every culture that the United States embodies,” Martinez said. “Because, the United States was at one point a melting pot … And I feel like now a lot of the cultures are not as identifiable. And I feel like it’s time that we start celebrating our histories, our ancestors, our cultures because that’s what makes us who we are.”

Martinez said that she believes that the political climate — and specifically the debate surrounding DACA — makes Hispanic Heritage month even more important.

“In a way for me, it just makes me even more proud of who I am and where I come from and who my parents are,” Martinez said. “You see the DACA students, they are struggling firsthand what my parents did, what other people’s grandparents did … I think Hispanic Heritage Month for them is a unifying feeling.”

Hispanic Heritage Month also allows students to come together and see there are many others that share their cultural background, Martinez said.

“You definitely appreciate Hispanic Heritage month because you realize it’s not ‘you’ anymore, it’s a lot of ‘you’s,’” Martinez said.

Martinez hopes that bringing Hispanic Heritage Month will allow students to gain a better appreciation of the Hispanic community.

“There’s so much more, even as a Latina person that I can learn, and I feel that definitely showcasing that to the students here and the community at Saint Mary’s is a way for them to appreciate it,” Martinez said. “Appreciating it and learning what makes us unique and what makes us different is a way of loving each other, and I feel like that’s something that our school definitely embodies.”

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About Jordan Cockrum

Jordan Cockrum is a junior at Saint Mary's studying Communications and Humanistic Studies.

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