The Geneseo Latino Student Association and Geneseo Late Knight co-hosted “Experience Hispanic Heritage Month” after sundown on the MacVittie College Union patio to showcase Hispanic culture on Friday Sept. 22.
The event highlighted different sects of Latino culture with games, crafts and traditional food representing a myriad of Spanish-speaking countries. Organizers promoted diverse aspects of Hispanic heritage by guaranteeing distinct representations of various countries––dance lessons offered insight into Puerto Rican and Dominican customs; a game similar to bingo represented Mexican culture.
Beyond activities, participants enjoyed authentic Hispanic cuisine, including fresh tortilla chips and guacamole, churros and sweet plantains.
“Our goal is to bring awareness to the population of Geneseo that even though there aren’t a lot of us, we still have a culture here,” LSA president senior Michelle Soria said.
The event marked the inaugural Experience Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. After the LSA e-board proposed the idea, Soria spent the spring 2017 semester writing the grant and planning the logistics. To advertise, LSA members tabled in the Union and offered information about their organization in the week preceding the event.
“Our Hispanic Heritage Month started off on Sept. 15, so we’re doing different activities [through October],” Soria said.
LSA’s heritage month will extend beyond this singular event to include both educational and participatory experiences, according to Soria. The e-board will present a screening of Pan’s Labyrinth—a Spanish film—during their general meeting in the Fireside Lounge at 6 p.m. on Thursday Sept. 28.
To encourage non-Hispanic student attendance, the language departments will amplify LSA’s promotional activities.
The “Experience Hispanic Heritage Month” event had a primarily festive purpose, but secondarily served a larger objective of promoting cultural awareness—thus challenging biases—on campus. Although LSA spearheaded the organization, GLK’s involvement made the event more accessible and publicized to students outside the club.
“I think it is necessary that Geneseo supports cultural groups,” LSA vice president junior Emilie Porter said. “In this time and sociocultural age, there’s sometimes a lack of understanding. This is a safe area to express differences.”
Multiple LSA e-board lauded the willingness of Geneseo students to engage with unfamiliar cultures and actively attempt to combat ignorance with education.
“I feel like this event is a really positive way to start the year,” LSA choreographer sophomore Eduniz Mendez said. “A lot of people have been supportive and are excited to see what we do—people are genuinely interested in what different cultural groups are doing on campus.”
Mendez reiterated that when students expose themselves to traditions with which they lack experience, they are able to develop of an informed world-view to prevent the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes. Combatting ignorance demands an educated appreciation for unfamiliar practices—which on-campus cultural groups like LSA aspire to provide within the context of a welcoming organization.u