Latino Heritage Month celebration begins

Latino Heritage Month 2013 calendarEvery fall, the Latino Resource Center and the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies organize academic, social, cultural, and professional events for the NIU student body and community to celebrate Latino Heritage Month.

Latino Heritage Month recognizes the richness and diversity of Latino culture and history in the United States and Latin America. This year’s theme is “Comunidad Latina/o: Educating, Engaging and Empowering.”

This year’s activities will highlight Latino music and history. All events are free and open to the public.

“El Grito,” the traditional commemoration of Latin American independence, kicks off the celebration from 4 to 10 p.m. today at the Latino Resource Center, 515 Garden Road. The event features food, games and prizes.

Cultural events include a dance party featuring the Ritmos Unidos Ensemble held from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. Panel discussions will explore educational opportunities in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and a workshop on career development.

A film screening of “Motorcycle Diaries” will be showcased from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, in Cole Hall 100.

The film is a 2004 biopic about the 1952 journey across South America and written memoir of the 23-year-old Ernesto Guevara, who would several years later become internationally known as the iconic Marxist guerrilla commander and revolutionary Che Guevara.

"The Motorcycle Diaries" poster“Motorcycle Diaries” is sponsored by the Anthropology Museum and Center for Latino & Latin American Studies. This program is made possible in part by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Illinois General Assembly.

“As a member of a historically disenfranchised group of people in America, it is of the utmost importance that we know where we come from, our current struggles, and celebrate our diversity as we move forward in attempting to achieve equity for everyone in our society. As such, National Latino Heritage Month gives us the opportunity to highlight our historical accomplishments and contributions to humankind,” said Jose Valencia, graduate assistant for the Latino Resource Center.

“In a time when anti-Latino sentiment across the nation is at an all-time high, for one month we are reminded that amongst our race there have been philosophers, doctors, astronauts, politicians, popes, humanitarians and much more. During this special time, it is our duty to spread our precious knowledge of who we are as a race in the hopes that in the future we will not be confined to just 30 days and separated by National Latino Heritage Month or African-American History Month or Asian-Pacific American History Month,” he said.

“It is our goal that as we as a society grow ever more diverse, we will eventually progress to a point where our hearts and laws reflect what our founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence so that one day we will be able to truthfully and proudly claim that everyone is created equal,” he added, “with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

A “Reverse Career Fair” will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, at the Holmes Student Center Regency Room. Students will experience a unique twist on a traditional career fair – a chance to stand on the other side of the table!

With a Reverse Career Fair, the tables are turned and student organizations set up booths and the recruiters walk around to meet with students representing each group. A Reverse Career Fair is an excellent opportunity for student leaders to showcase their professional skills and the values gained as a result of being in student organizations. This event is sponsored by Career Services and the Latino Resource Center.

Antonia Darder
Antonia Darder

Another cultural event is the NIU Unity Conference & Celebration, “Empowering Students with Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of Hope,” which will be held Friday, Sept. 27, and Saturday, Sept. 28.

The two-day event will feature Freireian-inspired social justice work along with many engaging and dynamic workshops aimed to inspire and empower participants. Antonia Darder, distinguished professor and internationally recognized Freireian Scholar, will deliver the keynote address. Registration is free but required. For more information, email unityconferenceniu2013@gmail.com. The event is sponsored by the Latino Student Alliance.

The Latino Resource Center is one of several campus cultural centers and part of the Division of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management. The Center for Latino and Latin American Studies is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For more information, call (815) 753-1986 or (815) 753-1531.

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