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Events celebrate Latino heritage

Roxanna Blevins

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The Office of Latino Student Affairs will celebrate its progress at the reception for its 10th annual National Hispanic Heritage Month.

When NKU started participating in National Hispanic Heritage Month 10 years ago, 57 Hispanic students were enrolled, according to administrative assistant of Latino Student Affairs Diane Maldonado. Two hundred sixty-five Hispanic students were enrolled for the 2011 spring semester.

“This is an opportunity to share the rich history of the Latino community,” said Leo Calderón, director of Latino Student Affairs.

The kick-off, which takes place Sept. 15, is the first in a series of events that will continue through Oct. 15.

Preceding the kick-off, there will be Zumba dancing outside at the Oakley and Eva G. Farris Amphitheatre at noon. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. with opening remarks by President James Votruba, followed by a review of the past 10 years of National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations. The event will also feature live music and dance performances.

“It’s a way to break down stereotypes and give awareness of Latinos and their heritage,” said sophomore sociology major Mayra Guzman.

Freshman anthropology and international studies major Jessica Vasquez agreed with Guzman, adding that not everyone who is Hispanic is from Mexico, as is often assumed. In addition, according to Maldonado, not all Hispanic individuals fit the stereotypical image of someone with brown skin, black hair and brown eyes.
Some individuals who are Latino but not necessarily recognizable as such include actresses Alexis Bledel and Lea Michelle and singer Alicia Keys.

National Hispanic Heritage Month began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 under the administration of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. The observation was then extended to 30 days by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. National Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with the independence days celebrated by multiple Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Chile.

In previous years during National Hispanic Heritage Month, NKU has welcomed keynote speakers like “Battlestar Galactica” actor Edward James Olmos, activist Sylvia Mendez, as well as comedian and poet Joe Hernandez-Kolski.

All of the presenters and keynote speakers are of Hispanic heritage, but the events of National Hispanic Heritage Month are open to everyone. Junior psychology major Elizabeth Bravo Hernandez said that she saw students of various nationalities and areas of study at Hernandez-Kolski’s presentation last year.

“It had a cross-cultural appeal,” Calderon said. “There was white, black, Latino, faculty, staff and students.”

In past years, only one keynote speaker has presented during National Hispanic Heritage Month. In celebration of NKU’s 10th anniversary observance of the month, this year will include keynote speakers.
The first presenter, Juana Watson, Ph.D., will visit campus Sept. 21. Watson is a professor of Latino Affairs at Graduate Theological Foundation. She also founded community centers for Latinos in Indiana, as well as non-profit organizations, such as Badges Without Borders.

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Jose Galvez will give a presentation Oct. 6. Galvez’ black and white photos capture Latinos in America going about their daily lives. Galvez’s artwork will also be displayed in the Fine Arts Center Third Floor Gallery.

President of the Mexican Legal Defense and Educational Fund Thomas Saenz will also be visiting campus Oct. 6 for a panel discussion.

In addition to the keynote speakers, there will be a Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) pre-celebration. Although Día de los Muertos officially falls on Nov. 2, middle and high school students will come to NKU Oct. 12 and 13 to learn about the holiday that celebrates the deceased.

“It’s like a party,” said sophomore electronic media and broadcasting major Arturo Minera about the significance of the holiday. “You give them an altar; you welcome them home as though they came home after a long stretch.”

For a list of all events or more information about the keynote speakers, go to http://latino.nku.edu/programs/schedule.php.

Hispanic Heritage Month Events

Sept. 15 – Zumba on the Square: Oakley and Eva G. Farris Amphitheatre at noon
Sept. 15 – National Hispanic Heritage Month kick-off reception: SU 107A, 5:30-7 p.m.
Sept. 21 – Juana Watson, Ph.D., presentation: Otto Budig Theatre at 1 p.m.
Sept. 21 – Juana Watson, Ph.D., reception: SU 109, 2:30-3:30
Oct. 6 – Jose Galvez presentation; SU 104; noon
Oct. 6 – Thomas Saenz panel discussion; UC Ballroom; 5 – 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 – Dia de los Muertos pre-celebration; UC Ballroom; 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Oct. 13 – Dia de los Muertos pre-celebration; UC Ballroom; 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Events celebrate Latino heritage