The theme for National Hispanic Heritage Month in 2023 is driving Latinos in the direction of prosperity, power and progress in America.
The Utah Tech Student Organization of Latinos and The Center for Inclusion and Belonging are assembling events in preparation to appreciate the history and contribution Latino ancestors have brought to the United States.
Hispanic heritage was first celebrated for a week in 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson established it and was lengthened to a month in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. The celebration of Hispanic heritage starts in the middle of a month because several Latin countries happen to have their independence day days apart from one another.
“It’s important [to celebrate Hispanic heritage] because as a community, Hispanics/Latinos overcame so much,” said Zelda Moreno, a junior criminal justice major from Las Vegas, who is the social media manager for SOL.
“It’s good for upcoming generations to know where they came from and learn about their roots and just be proud of where they came from instead of feeling ashamed for who they are,” Moreno said.
The United States is home to around 63.7 million Hispanics, according to the United States Census Bureau. At Utah Tech, 21% of the student population is a minority, and 12% of them are Hispanic.
The CIB puts on various activities throughout the school year starting with Hispanic Heritage Month. They also celebrate LGBTQ+ Awareness Month, Inclusion Week, Native American Heritage Month and Black History Month.
The Hispanic Heritage departmental kick-off event is Sept. 20, and it’s going to be a community event on campus with UTSA and SOL helping. The kickoff event is carnival-style where there will be booths, events, music and food.
Juan Alvarez, a freshman marketing major from Tacuarembó, Uruguay, and the president of SOL said: “For me, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month means remembering my family and culture. It’s a month where I can appreciate where my family comes from and celebrate.”
“We can really highlight and share parts of our culture with the surrounding community, both on and off campus,” said Elissa Aguayo, a senior digital film major from Cedar City.
The SOL has previously done a couple of cooking events where they had someone teach club members how to cook certain foods from that person’s culture.
“We made Cuban-style sandwiches with a Cuban member,” Moreno said. “It was really fun, so I’m hoping that this year we can do something like that again.”
The SOL members take turns sharing their own culture from around the world. Whether they are from Cuba, Mexico, Spain, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru or any Latin country, they all choose to be involved and open-minded when learning about the different cultures by trying new foods or learning to make traditional jewelry.
One event Moreno really liked was their craft night where they taught their club members how to make Ecuador-style beaded jewelry. The style consists of wrapping beads around thread to make different patterns and styles of jewelry.
“We also like doing events where we show movies that represent Hispanic/Latino culture,” Moreno said.
The first event SOL is hosting is called Nacho’s Festival where they will be watching “Nacho Libre” and eating nachos Sept. 13 at Campus View Suites II starting at 5 p.m..
“Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month means a lot to me because it reminds me I’m still part of this community,” Moreno said. “When I learn about new people or see others who are like me gather together, I feel really good and acknowledged.”