The University of Connecticut Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC) will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with multiple events starting on Sept. 15 and going until Oct. 15. These events aim to not only commemorate Hispanic culture, but to educate people on Hispanic culture as well.
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 because many Hispanic and Latinx countries achieved independence during this time period. Some of these countries include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile.
Jovanni Vicenty, a fifth-semester biology major, explained why bringing awareness to this history is important.
“It’s a time to celebrate Hispanic culture, since a lot of their independence days did fall within that time span we do want to give attention and awareness to that and celebrate the culture and make people aware of that,” Vicenty said.
Illuminating the Path is the “zenith of the heritage month” and PRLACC’s celebrations, Vicenty said. Illuminating the Path is an event where PRLACC invites a renowned Latinx individual to Jorgensen to shed light on and speak about their achievements and passions in the hopes of inspiring members of the Latinx community, according the Jorgensen website.
This year Illuminating the Path will be held on Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and will feature Maria Hinojosa, the anchor and executive producer of “Latino USA” on NPR. The public radio show is devoted to discussing Latinx issues that impact the daily lives of Latinx communities throughout the country. In the past, PRLACC his invited John Quinones, Diane Guerrero, Rosario Dawson and Diego Luna.
Inviting these important people “is inspiring and gives you a role model,” Vicenty said.
“Me being Puerto Rican myself, I haven’t really gone through a lot of the struggles that are typically expressed through minorities, but I definitely have experienced some and it’s really important to have a role model to see what you can become,” Vicenty said. “My father and my mother have always told me ‘you can do this,’ ‘you can do that,’ but it’s hard to think you can do that when you see your own parents not up there. Just having someone to see that they made it is like I can be that person too.”
Brunna Louzada, a first-semester studio art major, also views Illuminating the Path as an inspirational event.
“Like we were talking about before, it’s inspiring because not only is she up there, but she’s also Latino,” Louzada said. “It gives a sense of hope to minorities.”
Louzada also added that having a Latinx celebrity at UConn is different than even seeing them in the media because it adds an element of reality.
“I’ve never been to it [Illuminating the Path] so I really want to see what she says and how she approaches different questions, and I’ve never really experienced that before,” Louzada said. “I’ve never really seen a Latino celebrity answer questions. You can watch videos, but it’s not the same y’know. If you can see them right there up close it’s different.”
One main purpose of holding this keynote event is to “give credit to Hispanic influence in today’s culture and today’s society as a whole,” Vicenty said.
Vicenty also explained that Hispanic and Latinx influences are often written over or erased in American traditions and stories. He explained that even with a figure like Batman, which is presented as an American hero, the character’s origins might have been influenced by the story of Zorro, a fictional, masked Spanish hero.
“There’s just a lot of areas in today’s culture, and all sorts of media, that not enough attention is brought to how people of color have contributed,” Vicenty said. “It’s especially important with this whole president issue. We live in a culture where the majority is white and we still need to bring awareness to the other cultures that lives in America. So it’s just important to give credit to where it’s due.”
Tickets for Illuminating the Path are free for UConn students and can be purchased in advance or at the door.
Alexis Taylor is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.