By Stella Katsipoutis-Varkanis

Tomorrow marks the kickoff of Latinx Heritage Month, celebrated annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 in tribute to the generations of Hispanic, Latinx, and Afro-Latinx Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our society. Also honored this month are the histories, cultures, and contributions of individuals whose ancestors hailed from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The celebration was first introduced to the United States in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, which was later extended to a monthlong commemoration of the various anniversaries of independence for several Latin American countries. 

Flags representing different countries are on display in Farinon Student Center for Latinx Heritage Month.“It’s truly important to realize how powerful Hispanics are and how amazing our culture is—not only during this month, but at all times,” says Eduardo Andrade ’23, civil engineering major and president of Hispanic Society of Lafayette (HSL). “Throughout history, we’ve been underrepresented, especially in the U.S. It’s important that we recognize the achievements of figures like Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina American to go to space, and Roberto Clemente, the first Hispanic American in Major League Baseball, and many others. We’re continuing to grow as a community and on campuses all over the U.S., and it’s essential that we incorporate into our everyday thinking how important it is to be Latino, to respect Latinos, and understand what it is to be Latino.”

The Office of Intercultural Development (OID) and HSL will be hosting a series of events throughout the month to bring together Lafayette students, faculty, and staff to recognize the impact of Latinx and other identities on our campus. The Lafayette College community should check out the Calendar of Events as well as HSL on Instagram for updated event information.  

Karina Fuentes, associate director of intercultural development, and Robert Young ’14, director of intercultural development, encourage all members of the Lafayette community to join in on the festivities, no matter their cultural identity. 

“It is important for the Lafayette community to get involved to the extent in which all spaces are honoring those who identify as Hispanic/Afro-Latinx/Latinx,” Fuentes says. “It ignites community involvement and advocacy work. Moreover, it creates synergy around spaces that usually do not interact with other Hispanic/Afro-Latinx/Latinx identifying students, faculty, or staff.” 

“Let’s not absolve ourselves of being in a space of learning because we’re not part of a particular community or don’t have a particular identity,” Young adds. “This is an opportunity to learn and be allies. Let’s keep that at the forefront: civic engagement and supporting one another throughout the year.”

Andrade also welcomes all Lafayette students to get involved with HSL—which, he says, is on the brink of an exciting semester. “Our mission is to empower, educate, and encourage people to learn about the culture,” he says. “I know it can be difficult to make friends, especially for first-years, and that’s why we’re here: to provide that sense of community. I am proud to say that the Latino community is very friendly; we’ll make sure you’re fed and that you’re happy, and HSL truly wants to represent that. We want people to come to HSL and say, ‘This is my familia, a group of people I can hang out with and trust, and who can help me achieve my goals.’ We have members from all class years, we have a wonderful board that is passionate, and we want to be an open, safe space where people can learn about others and themselves. Be prepared for the familia, because our community is going to be so strong, and we’re going to have fun this semester.”

Fuentes also reminds students that OID is another resource available to them on campus: “The Office of Intercultural Development is here to provide resources and meaningful dialogue surrounding identities in our Lafayette community,” she says. 

Want to learn more about Latinx heritage? Fuentes and Young recommend these resources:

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The Office of Intercultural Development

Located in Farinon, the Office of Intercultural Development aims to cultivate an environment in which members of the Lafayette community value one another, engage in meaningful dialogue, and develop skills to enact social change.

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Categorized in: Campus life, Community, Community Impact, Featured News, Intercultural Development, Intercultural Experience, News and Features, Social Hub

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