National Hispanic Heritage Month, or Mes de la Herencia Hispana, recognizes the contributions Hispanic and Latin Americans have made in the United States and celebrates their culture and roots.
It began on Friday, lasting from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 . The reason why this time period has been chosen is because many Latin American independence days fall within the month. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all celebrate their independence days Sept. 15. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period.
Around 55 million people or 17 percent of the American population are of Hispanic or Latinx origin. National Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate their achievements here in North America as well as their cultures carried with them from South America.
Here at UConn, the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, also called PRLACC, helps celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by hosting an event every day of the month. This includes movie nights, games, discussions and fundraisers.
This week’s events include a discussion called “Illuminating the Path” featuring John Quiñones, host of the television show “What Would You Do?”. Taking place tonight in Jorgensen at 7 p.m., it will be a very interactive program and will help students learn how to protect fellow Huskies of all backgrounds.
The first LxSLC (Latinx Student Leadership Council) meeting is taking place in the PRLACC Program Room on Sept. 20 at 5 pm. Another event is Colombian Night, which is Sept. 21 at 6:30 pm in the Rome Ballroom. It is a great opportunity to celebrate and learn more about Colombian culture. There will food, dancing and other festivities.
Nadejah Green, a fifth semester special education major who works at PRLACC, explained that Hispanic Heritage Month began as an expansion of Hispanic Heritage Week in 1988. “We do hope that people enjoy Hispanic heritage beyond this month; it can be enjoyed the whole year” Green said.
As for why it is important for students to be engaged in Hispanic Heritage month, Green said: “For everyone, and especially people with social majors, it directly affects your future because you will be around so many people of different backgrounds. It helps you to be more culturally aware. It can also give people the chance to be involved with PRLACC and can help them feel more comfortable coming here in the future” Green said.
“It is important to embrace other cultures and to get out of your comfort zone” added Angel Arzola, a first semester biology major who also works at PRLACC.
For any student regardless of heritage or background, college presents so many opportunities, to expand your horizons and immerse yourself in different cultures. To make the most of these opportunities it is so important to engage in different activities and events on campus. National Hispanic Heritage Month is just one of these opportunities. Hispanic and Latin American culture is very present here in the United States and students can use this month to explore the culture and learn more about it. All students are encouraged to participate and learn something new this month and beyond.
When it comes to accepting all people regardless of background or identity, America still has a long way to go. Hispanic Heritage Month can be a reminder of how far we have come despite current setbacks. It is a time for us to be proud of our country’s diversity and can remind us that different people and cultures is what makes us such a special country.
For updates on Hispanic Heritage Month and all things PRLACC you can follow them on instagram @UConnPRLACC or on Facebook at PRLACC. The center is located on the fourth floor of the Student Union and is open until 8 p.m. on weeknights.
Melissa Scrivani is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.