Arts & Culture Editor
Kick-off for Hispanic Heritage month at Millersville began on Monday, September 16, 2013 with exciting and culturally interactive events to bring awareness to this month-long event.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a 30 day event from September 15 to October 15 annually to celebrate the Latino and Hispanic culture, history and contributions across the United States. Originally, it began as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson but was later recognized as a month-long event when President Ronald- Reagan entered office in 1988. Many significant dates for Hispanic countries fall under this 30-day period, giving the month long event every reason to celebrate.
It’s not every day you get to hear Mariachi music on your way to class so of course everyone on campus Monday wanted to know the reason why. Mariachi band called Maya performed in front of the SMC starting at 11am until 2pm. Mexican Ranchero music could be heard throughout campus as students walked to their classes and enjoyed their breaks in between. Many students stopped to enjoy the sound of this authentic music along with taking pictures which still brought along a curiosity of the reasoning behind this performance. “We want to not only embrace our culture but our purpose is to promote our culture to everyone, not just to the Latino community and we want to improve the diversity on campus along with acceptance of other cultures.” said Ricardo Bens, President of SOLA (Society on Latino Affairs), who collaborated with CSIL (Center for Student Involvement & Leadership) to make this event happen at Millersville during this month.
Monday evening continued the kick-off of Hispanic Heritage Month with a performance by Fuego y Caliente Dance Company. Just before the dance performance, Norman Bristol Colón, President & CEO of The Progreso Group, gave a very motivational speech for everyone in attendance to recognize the issues and potential that the Latino community bears. He spoke of his life in Puerto Rico coming from poverty and raised by a single, hard-working mother, His move to the United States, pursuing his goal of attending Penn State University and where he ultimately made a difference by bringing awareness to the struggles that the Latino culture endures in this country. Still to this day he has the motivation and determination to bring a positive change for the Latino culture. “I may speak with an accent but I do not think with an accent.” Is one of the many motivational remarks Colón made during his speech. He not only opened the eyes of anyone from the a Hispanic background but of anyone that isn’t a part of the Hispanic culture. “It is a human relations challenge to recognize the Latino culture as a significant part in our society and this is one of our biggest problems in the United States.” Stated Colón on several facts of our society today.
Fuego Dance Company from Philadelphia has been recognized for their excellence and has traveled across the US to major cities for many competitions including Chicago and Miami along with many awards in the Delaware Valley Region. Created in 1996 just for fun and enjoyment out of the hip-swaying Latino dance, it soon turned into a passion with an eagerness to embrace the dance in the Hispanic and Latino Culture and they are now celebrating 18 years of being one of the largest and oldest dance groups in the area. All dancers in Fuego are students ranging from college to middle school level but with a good academic standing to ensure their education comes first. Dancers of all levels from beginner, intermediate, and advanced performed several routines with common Latino dances such as the Cha-Cha, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Samba that made everyone in the audience clap, sing and want to do dance along with them. Audience members included students, faculty, family and friends. Leonely Javier and Carolina Hernandez, first year students at Millersville, both agreed with each other and said “I’m here because I love Latino music and the culture. But I’m also proud of my culture and I’m here to embrace it. It’s great to see the Latino community embracing where they come from. I’m originally from the Dominican Republic so I love to see this happening, especially here.”
Monday night ended with all smiles of the beginning for the Hispanic Heritage Month that will be celebrated by not only Millersville students but by the Latinos and Hispanics across the country.