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ISSUE 120 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/22/2006

Month showcases heritage, justice

By Shoshanna Blank
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 22, 2006

Latino Heritage Month began with a kick-off Friday, September 15 in Buntrock Crossroads. The month will last until October 11 and includes 13 events for the entire St. Olaf community to enjoy.

The month included days in both September and October because five Latino countries have independence days on September 16. Presente! is organizing the month long celebration.

"[The goal of] Latino Heritage Month falls under the broader spectrum of our mission in general, which is really to celebrate the diversity of Latino cultures, both here in the United States and also in Latin America. It is a way of celebrating and recognizing that," said Anna Steel '07, president of Presente!

On Friday, September 22, there will be a live dance in the Pause with the Carpio Production Band playing salsa, cumbia and merengue music. Another event is the documentary "Visiones," which will be showing Episodes 1-3 in Viking Theatre at 7 p.m. on Oct. 2 and episodes 4-6 on Oct. 10.

Steel said this event was definitely one of the most intriguing.

"Different episodes concentrate on the different aspects of Latino culture, from different social movements including the Chicano, the mural, and the spoken word movements," she said.

Nationally, Latino Heritage Month is known as Hispanic Heritage Month. Presente! decided to change the title at St. Olaf because the word Latino includes more people from Central and Latin Americas as well as the United States.

"Hispanic is a term referring to those areas of Latin America that were invaded by Spain, so it kind of marginalizes the experience of Brazilians or French Caribbeans," Steel said. “We really want to be inclusive of all.”

This year’s theme is "Caminando Hacemos Camino," which means "In walking we create a path." This is in part to help showcase people pursuing social justice within the Latino community.

There are many “fun” events on this month’s calendar, but also many informative ones.

"We’re trying to incorporate things that really dig at the root of social problems,” Steel said. I think at St. Olaf students have a lot of positive feedback from our events. We don’t want to attack anyone or scare anyone off, but it’s about including everyone and trying to make people at St. Olaf aware about the diverse spectrum of Latino culture and trying to increase awareness," Steel said. "We’re trying to break the stereotypes and bring in speakers who show how much diversity is within our own community."

The emphasis this year is on the local Hispanic community within Minnesota. Issues such as immigration will be addressed in the events.

"Our society is changing in really radical ways and the reality is that we need to become more conscious of issues pertaining to different communities and different cultures and different world views in order to be responsible citizens of the world," Steel said. "Learning and discovering different viewpoints for your own makes you a more well-rounded person yourself. I feel that in any issue of diversity you’re enhancing your own understanding of the world."

Presente! hopes to achieve part of this global awareness at St.Olaf with the many events of Latino Heritage Month.

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