The Seton Hall Latino community is uniting to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with events beginning Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15.
According to Stephanie Macias-Arlington, the executive director of the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute, the Seton Hall Latino community came together to shape a truly inclusive and engaging set of events. She said student groups like Adelante, the official Latino organization on campus, and Greek Life organizations Lambda Theta Phi, Lambda Theta Alpha and Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority took the lead.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to observe National Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America,” Macias-Arlington said.
Macias-Arlington explained that many of the events are annual programs. She said, for example, Adelante has hosted their “¿Y tú quién eres?” panel during Hispanic Heritage Month in the past and the Institute’s gala is an annual festivity that honors leading Latino Americans, celebrates Latino heritage and raises the necessary funds to continue empowering the next generation of student leaders from Seton Hall.
Gabriela Fernandez, a junior diplomacy and international relations major who is a member of the Institute, said she is looking forward to the upcoming events. On Oct. 11, students will have the opportunity to participate in a popular type of Cuban Salsa called “Rueda de Casino” with famous salsa dance troupe Fuákata.
Fernandez added that the Spanish Spelling Bee is one of her favorite events. “I love my language, so I enjoy seeing other people celebrate it and practice it,” Fernandez said.
Adrian Orozco, a senior political science major and president of Lambda Theta Phi, said he is anticipating the Walsh Library’s Latino exhibit. “I’m excited to see what the Library will put together to recognize and celebrate contributions to this campus and nations by Latinos,” Orozco said.
Vanessa Colmenares, a sophomore biochemistry, molecular biology and philosophy major, discussed the importance of celebrating the Latino culture. Born and raised in Venezuela, she said she encourages others not to fear language barriers and to embrace the difference in cultures.
“Never let your fear decide your future,” Colmenares said. “Linguistic barriers aren’t permanent. Don’t be scared to learn another language in a different country. Be excited it’s going to happen.”
Fernandez, who is a native of Puerto Rico, said, “When you leave your home or leave your culture, you look for something to connect with it. And looking at how people from really diverse backgrounds celebrate your culture, it’s a really beautiful thing. It makes you feel welcomed and accepted, happy that people appreciate and respect your culture. It’s amazing.
“Even if we don’t know it, Latinos can be anyone. It’s not a box that you put people in because we’re so diverse. I think it’s a great way to learn about other cultures—what it is to be Latino, what it is to be Hispanic and to break the stereotypes.”
Kristel Domingo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.