This month, Mississippi State University is honoring its Hispanic students and faculty with multiple events and initiatives in place for National Hispanic Heritage month. The Holmes Cultural Diversity Center (HCDC) and the Latino Student Association (LSA) along with other partners have organized many different virtual events, in-person exhibitions and social media initiatives for the celebration of Hispanic culture.
Starting Sept. 15, the celebration will last a month and focus on various aspects of Hispanic culture. According to Sofia Alvarez, the LSA president and a senior studying political science, the planning and coordination of the events this month is designed to bring out the different cultures present at MSU.
"We have a committee for Hispanic Heritage Month. We are trying to hold a lot of events that feature Hispanic culture. Right now in the Union, we have an art gallery featuring some architecture and artwork from Mississippi State students, and it’s really, really nice," Alvarez said. "We are holding a culture swap today to compare our culture with the Filipino Student Association and their culture to learn about our respective cultures and things like that. That is just two of our events this year."
Due to COVID-19 regulations of social distancing and limited social gatherings, the annual celebration has been forced to adjust accordingly. According to Kei Mamiya, the assistant director at HCDC and member of the planning committee for Hispanic Heritage month, all the normal events have been converted into virtual events via WebEx.
"We do have a lot of in-person events usually, including the dance competition which is our main annual event. We have instructors from MSU ballroom dance class, and they teach us how to do some dance forms and Latin dance. We invite a DJ and hold the event on the Drill Field, but those kind of in-person events can’t be done this year, so all of the events are being held virtually on WebEx, as well as in-person galleries available," Mamiya said. "This year we are also trying to use a lot of social media, so we created different videos to share experiences of MSU Latinx students and showcase their culture through videos as well."
Other events have included the "Virtual Latinx Career Talk & Social," an event where students could speak with Latinx professionals and make career connections, as well as the "LSA & FSA Virtual Culture Swap," where members of the Latino and Filipino Student Associations met and shared aspects of their respective cultures.
Upcoming events include the "Quique Avilés Poetry Performance" at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 and the aforementioned "iBaile Virtual Latin Dance Competition" at 4 p.m on Oct. 14.
In addition to events and social media initiatives, there will be two long-term exhibitions for the month. "Art and Architecture in the Americas" is located in the second-floor Union art gallery and "Celebrating Hispanic Heritage" is located on the second floor of the library.
Anahi Altamirano, the vice president of the LSA and a senior computer science major, is excited to share the Hispanic culture with others and believes this to be the driving force behind the events and initiatives in place for the month.
"I think the main goal is to get other people to see what our culture is like and open the door for more people to understand and share our culture with us. Sharing it with people is a really fun thing to do, especially when it is different than what most people are used to," Altamirano said.
LSA President Alvarez wants to showcase the culture of MSU’s Hispanic student population and show others why it is so important to them.
"The Hispanic population here is not very large, so I think it is important to showcase who we are and that we are here. We are more than a number; we have a culture and other things that are important to us," Alvarez said.