Students celebrate culture

By Kelly Haley
October 7, 2004
Truman Index

Hispanics, now the nation’s largest minority group, according to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau, are taking a month to celebrate and share their heritage.

Bertha Thomas, assistant dean of multicultural affairs, said it is for people on campus, and all over the world, to take part in Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

“Students who participate and come to Hispanic Heritage Month activities and events, majority students and minority students, have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about this culture in order to be able to participate in our changing country,” Thomas said.

Hispanic Heritage Week became a month-long celebration in 1989 when the U.S. Congress extended it so all Americans could learn of the contributions Hispanics have made to the United States.

The Hispanic-American Leadership Organization and the Multicultural Affairs Center are working together to plan events for Hispanic Heritage Month, said senior Elisea Avalos, president of HALO.

HALO, in its fourth semester at Truman, was formed to unite Hispanic students on campus. Although it is a young group, its members have big plans for this year.

HALO works with Milan Centro Latino, an organization that provides assistance to Hispanics in Sullivan County, Mo., said Stephen Hadwiger, associate professor of nursing and board member for MCL.

“The Milan Centro Latino is a nonprofit organization which mission statement is to facilitate the transition for Hispanic residents or Latinos as they adjust to American culture, specifically very rural Missouri,” Hadwiger said.

MCL gives Hispanics information about health and education as well as English classes and translating services in Milan, Mo., which has an increasing Hispanic population.

“Hispanic Heritage Month sets recognition that America is not a single language or single culture, but we’re very much multicultural, multilingual,” Hadwiger said.

Sigma Lambda Beta, Sigma Lambda Gamma, the Office of Residential Living and several professors also are helping spread Hispanic culture.

“We try in a collaborative manner to work with other divisions and offices on campus in order for them to think of ways to integrate the Hispanic History Month,” Thomas said.

Sodexho is one of many organizations contributing to Hispanic Heritage Month by incorporating Hispanic dishes into its menus.

The dance group “El Grupo Antotonilco” performed at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 in Baldwin Hall Auditorium. After the performance, dancers from “El Grupo Antotonilco” taught students dance moves at an after-party.

“A dance performance provides students with such lively music, vibrant costumes and interesting dances,” Thomas said.

More activities are planned for October for students who were unable to attend the performance and dance.

The “A Taste of Home” dinner will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 3 in the Multicultural Affairs Center and will feature Hispanic dishes made by students and local restaurants.

Other activities for Hispanic Heritage Month include the Hispanic Heritage Festival from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 14 in the Ryle Hall main lounge. It will feature Hispanic music, dancing and crafts for children.

Avalos said students should watch for posters around campus to learn about upcoming events.

“We’re going to be doing huge huge advertising, not just on campus, but also target other schools within the Kirksville community,” Avalos said.

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