NKU celebrates diverse campus community

Claire Higgins

Hola y bienvenidos a la celebracion de Mes de la Hispanidad! (Hello and welcome to Northern Kentucky’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration!) NKU’s Office of Latino Student Affairs is hosting events throughout the 30-day period dedicated to honoring the histories, cultures and contributions of the Hispanic community.

Although the party officially began Sept. 17 with a Kick-Off Reception, the on-campus events continue until Oct. 14 when the month ends with a two-day Dia de los Muertos pre-celebration. The pre-celebration is just a preview of the festivities to come during the Latino holiday celebrating and remembering late friends and family. Dia de los Muertos is traditionally commemorated on Nov. 2.

NKU began observing Hispanic Heritage Month in 2001. Director of Latino Student Affairs Leo Calderon was happy to make the celebration a campus-wide event, and comprehensively bring the Latino and non-Latino communities together. This year’s national theme is “Heritage, Diversity, Integrity, and Honor: The Renewed Hope of America.”

Other departments, including the Honors Program, help get the word out about Hispanic Heritage Month every year and also help decide on the keynote speaker for the Kick-Off Reception. The speakers are a very exciting part of the month. According to Calderon, they are incredible and “a wonderful thing to share.”

Over the years, NKU has invited Latino activists and artists such as Jaime Escalante, Dolores Huerta, Sylvia Mendez and this year, a comedian. Comedian-poet Joe Hernandez-Kolski performed at the Kick-Off on Sept. 17, which attracted about 120 people. Calderon said the opening night usually brings in about 60. This was the first year a comedian has performed and it went really well, it was “a light-hearted presentation,” Calderon said “We have to laugh about it…celebrate who we are.”

Second-year freshman media informatics major Hector Diaz’s favorite part has been the kick-off, and he said this year’s party was “really good, really funny… (and) everyone had a good time.”

Celebrating Latino culture is the main objective in all Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, which is also celebrated nationally every year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

Sept. 15 holds special significance because it is the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua from Spain.

The Dia de los Muertos pre-celebration takes place over two days. The pre-celebration invites local middle and high school students to join the on-campus event. NKU students and faculty help teach the young students about the Latino holiday through activities, an altar-making competition and a free lunch.

According to Calderon, this event is one of the biggest and students should come if they want to see some action. The Dia de los Muertos pre-celebration, as well as all of the others, is open to NKU students and the local community.

The next Hispanic Heritage Month event on campus is the Multicultural Networking Reception on Oct. 7, where students can mingle with area employers. On Oct. 8, the Myth or Reality presentation will focus on Latino immigration.

Hispanic Heritage Month at NKU has been a way to reach out to the surrounding Latino community and bring Latinos and non-Latinos together.

For a complete list of previous and upcoming events during Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as information about the Office of Latino Student Affairs, visit latino.nku.edu.

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