Senior Features Writer
Tuesday, Sept. 15 marked the beginning of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage month, which includes a series of events through Oct. 15. Latinas Unidas and the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) have put together events to celebrate the month. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of student organizations and events this school year, the organizations are still able to celebrate the month with members of the College community.
When asked about what this month means to them, members of OLAS and Latinas Unidas had different perspectives. Although they all highlighted different aspects of what the month means to them, they all agreed that the month is about celebrating and sharing their cultures. Lizbeth Acevedo ’21, the vice president of OLAS, said that this month has two meanings to her — to recognize the various accomplishments of many Latinx/Hispanic-Americans in the United States and to educate others about their cultures and the struggles and triumphs they face living in America.
Linat Westreich ’23, the vice president of finance for Latinas Unidas, added that “each event has an element of celebrating Latinx culture while incorporating elements that can educate and include non-Latinx students, faculty and staff.”
Priscilla Ramos Rico ’21, the co-president of Latinas Unidas, shared a similar sentiment, emphasizing that this month is also about celebrating “the people within our community that normally wouldn’t get noticed.” This month’s special emphasis on Hispanic/Latinx heritage highlights the many unique facets of Hispanic/Latinx culture that could be easier to miss during the rest of the year.
Hispanic/Latinx Heritage month looks different this year at the College. Last year, the organizations put together the Latinx Gala and in years past they put on events like “Taste of Latin America” where they had different foods from Latin American countries. Those specific events are not going to happen this year due to social distancing guidelines. However, that does not change everything about the month.
When asked about handling event planning with the pandemic, Natalia Parra ’21, president of OLAS, expressed frustration, stating “This year almost everything is online, which can be a bit stressful since we have to go through a lot of red tape to even bring an idea to the table.”
Jackie Perez ’21, co-president of Latinas Unidas, added that “planning for events during COVID-19 has been interesting because we had to go through a process of elimination to figure out which events would be possible and which we could adapt.”
However, that does not make it impossible to put together events. Acevedo argues that “although there are restrictions, we have made many accommodations to continue our celebrations and find meaning in staying connected virtually.” The organizations are planning on making most of their events either virtual or hybrid.
One example of an event that was held virtually was the Salsa Night on Tuesday, Sept. 22. When talking about the event, Ramos Rico said, “We were able to learn about the history of Salsa as well as learn how to dance it.” She also emphasized that the event helped de-stress her and other people who attended the event. Parra led the class and taught the basics of Salsa to everyone.
Giuli Morales ’23, the vice president of communication for Latinas Unidas, said that “the Salsa Night event was a fun night where all of us presented a PowerPoint and showed our members how to dance.” Even though this event was virtual this year, it was still a success.
This year, Hispanic/Latinx Heritage month at the College has multiple weekly events, including a craft night and decorating the Latinx lounge. For more information on these events, visit the social media pages for Latinas Unidas and OLAS.