The Alliance of Latin American Students (ALAS) — in collaboration with several campus organizations — kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month with an opening ceremony on Sept. 18 at the Lakeside Patio. The event featured live music and Hispanic student clubs tabling and offering students chances to get connected.
An annual celebration, Hispanic Heritage Month lasts from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Several UM organizations have been preparing to provide opportunities for students to celebrate Latin communities and culture around the world.
The nationwide celebration was established in 1988 during the Reagan administration, though it originated as a week-long festivity back in 1968. This year’s theme in the U.S. is “Todos Somos, Somos Uno: We Are All, We Are One.”
“To me, the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month is more than just celebrating culture, but rather the diversity of all our cultures and how we can still come together and feel like we are a community,” Stephan Rasco, a senior studying economics and political science, said.
Rasco is the leadership chair of the UM Latin Leadership Council (LLC) and co-president of the ALAS. ALAS and LLC will be expanding their collaborators this year by partnering with student organizations like Hurricane Productions (HP) and the Counseling Outreach Peer Education (COPE) program.
ALAS, with LLC, will host a Latin cooking night with the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) on Sept. 20 from 6-8 p.m. in the Wellness Kitchen room 232.
There will also be a Cuban Heritage Collection tour on Sept. 21 from 2-3 p.m., a “Real Talk” hosted by the Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) office on Sept. 25 from 6:30-7:30 p.m., a game night social on Sept. 26 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Association of Commuter Students (ACS) office and a BIPOC radical healing circle held by COPE on Oct. 5 from 12-1 p.m. in the Wellness Center.
Catch the Real Talk hosted in collaboration with the United Human Rights Foundation (UHRF) on Oct. 3 from 7-9 pm., then head to the Rathskeller on Oct. 4 for a karaoke night hosted by HP from 6.30-8 p.m.
The MSA program provides services through cultural student organizations to support the personal development of ethnically diverse students on campus.
“No matter how intersectional our identities are — Afro-Latino, indigenous, or “No-sabo” — we all feel at home with each other and feel immense pride in our roots, and I think that is what makes Hispanic Heritage Month beautiful,” Rasco said.
Isabella Villaverde, a senior majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry, psychology and Spanish, said that Hispanic Heritage Month allows her to further express her Cuban culture.
“I love being able to talk about my culture and engage in activities related to it, like cooking Latin food,” Villaverde said.
Students interested in volunteering for Hispanic Heritage Month events can contact Rasco or the second vice president of ALAS, Angel Aguilar. But more importantly, students are encouraged to attend events throughout the month and show their appreciation for Hispanic culture.