CSDI celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Dancers from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Ministry of Dance in Ferguson, Missouri, gather before their performance on Sept. 18.

The Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion is holding its first full month of events for National Hispanic Heritage Month, which spans Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

So far, the center has hosted a celebration of Mexican independence and culture, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Dancers, a viewing of the film “And the Earth Did Not Move” with Spanish professor Carolina Rocha, a discussion on how to support undocumented students, a cultural dinner celebration and a panel discussion of Latinx students’ experiences at SIUE.

Tarsha Moore, assistant director of the CSDI, said the events were planned after speaking with students and faculty members.

“[The previous CSDI director] had an opportunity to engage some of the current Hispanic student organizations, and these were some of the things that we heard [students wanted]  throughout those various conversations,” Moore said. “We also worked strategically with faculty to make sure that we brought in some very important educational pieces, such as celebrating Mexican Independence Day.”

Moore also said that attendance for the events had varied, but been fairly small overall. However, she said this was most likely because it was the center’s first year holding a series of events for this month of recognition.

“All traditions need time to develop into traditions, and I think this is just our first small attempt in doing so,” Moore said.

Brianna Abrego, a junior nursing major from Waukegan, Illinois, was a panelist at the Latinx student experience event. Abrego said aside from that, she’d only been to the Mexican Independence Day Celebration. However, she also said she enjoyed seeing the events on campus.

“I have a lot of pride, and it’s good to have an event to channel that pride into,” Abrego said.

Sebastian Sanchez, a sophomore accounting major from Tacámbaro, Michoacán in Mexico, was the other student speaker at the Latinx student experience panel.

Both students said they have experienced racism in their lives, but so far it has not happened on campus at SIUE.

“I’ve had some people who had misconceptions … because they’ve never been with our cultures. So there are some, you know, minor misconceptions or stereotypes, but it’s not a big deal to me,” Sanchez said. “It’s just you have to explain to them that that’s not what the case is.”

Sanchez also spoke about what it meant to him to be the first member of his family to get a college education. He became emotional when speaking about how his father, an American citizen who was raised in Mexico, immigrated with his uncle and grandmother after his grandfather left. 

“When he came here, they had nothing. They were living in a basement, and all they had was their clothes, and a mattress. And now, he has his own business,” Sanchez said. “It’s like my duty to come here and study. To be able to show them my family has come from nothing to somewhere.”

According to the National Hispanic Heritage Month website, the month originally began as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. In 1988, it was officially expanded to be a full month under President Ronald Reagan.

The final event in the CSDI’s Hispanic Heritage Month schedule is another film viewing with Rocha, this time featuring “Maria, Full of Grace.” The film will be shown at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 15 in the CSDI office.

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