Month-long celebration commemorates Hispanic heritage

Ibtesam Ghazy, Staff Reporter

National Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) has dawned upon the community for another September, helping people acknowledge a number of significant contributions achieved by the Latinx community and celebrate those who have stood out in their efforts to improve the world.

“In a society where our representation [of] Latinos lacks in various ways, it’s nice to have a month designated for our culture and people to shine and be recognized,” said Andrew Jimenez, a fourth-year aerospace and mechanical engineering student.

HHM began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson. Many Latin American countries gained independence in September and began annually celebrating their common heritage through festivals honoring their history and rich culture. In the U.S., the Hispanic population is around 55 million people and has made many contributions: 1.2 million Hispanics serve in the armed forces; Mario Molina won the Nobel Prize in chemistry; and Oscar Hijuelos received the Rome Prize and the Pulitzer Prize. HHM allows society to take a step back and focus on appreciating these accomplishments.

According to La Alianza, a Latinx Case Western Reserve University student group, “This month is the time to showcase our culture to everyone around us and have pride in our identity.”

While HHM reminds people to embrace their Hispanic heritage and remember what it means to share Latinx culture, it is also a way for the student body to celebrate diversity on campus and help others understand the culture of the Latinx community.

This month gives Latinx students the opportunity to get in touch with staff and faculty members who share Hispanic heritage and can offer students guidance on political issues, student activism and discovery of resources and organizations which they can get involved with on campus.

“After being introduced to La Alianza and participating in [HHM], I created many friendships and made memories that will continue to enhance my experience at CWRU,” said second-year student Yoshmar Pinal-Alfaro.

HHM also helps the student body take a closer look at problems that plague the Latinx community in a broader scope and the different ways it can be more humane and accepting by addressing these issues and becoming proactive.

As Alianza Latina, the CWRU faculty and staff Latinx group, stated, “In times of turmoil, having a month showcasing the Latino culture gives the [Latinx] students a sense of belonging and acceptance in the CWRU community.”

Vice President for Research and Technology Management Suzanne Rivera, Ph.D., stated, “At CWRU, we use [HHM] to build a community among Latino faculty, staff and students and to invite others to share in appreciating our cultural heritage.”

The campus-wide celebration of HHM was initiated by the Alianza Latina in 2013. But this year, the HHM has expanded to include a number of campus groups such as La Alianza, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Social Justice Institute, the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, the LGBT center, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity and the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.

Representatives from each of these campus groups have contributed in some way to HHM to create an exciting and fun experience for the student body. Celebratory events will continue into October, including Gala Latina on Oct. 5, “Our Borderlands/Our Bridges” lecture on Oct. 8, a Latino Alumni Network Reception on Oct. 13 and a symposium for Latina engineers on Oct. 17.