Hispanic Heritage Month calls for campus celebrations

Co-presidents Michelle Trejo Acevado and Agustin Ascencio of MSU’s Latino Student Association led their fellow organization members across campus.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and Mississippi State University is celebrating through a variety of events and exhibits that will showcase Hispanic culture and honor individuals of Hispanic origin.

According to the Hispanic Heritage Month website, the holiday was first established as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 and was expanded to a month in 1988.

Organizations at MSU will host activities throughout the month for Hispanic students to share their culture with others.

MSU’s first event for the month was Salsa in the Streets on Sept. 15. The event was a collaboration between MSU’s Division of Access, Diversity and Inclusion, the MSU Latino Student Association (LSA) and the Mississippi State University Ballroom Dancing Club.

Kei Mamiya, interim director of the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, said participants were given a lesson in salsa, bachata and other forms of dance from Hispanic culture. The event featured authentic food from Starkville restaurants, a live DJ and a dance floor.

LSA Historian Andrea Gonzalez said Salsa in the Streets is her favorite event LSA hosts. The event was one of the first that Gonzalez had ever attended with the group and lead her toward participating in LSA.

"Every time I go, it never disappoints," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said parties are common in Hispanic culture. She said Salsa in the Streets gave students a party atmosphere similar to what one might find in the Hispanic community.

Hector Pitti, a senior majoring in business information systems, is the event coordinator for the Latino Student Association. According to Pitti, lots of people from outside of the organization attended the event.

Sept. 22, LSA hosted "Fiesta de Colores" in the Old Main Academic Center.

Participants in the fiesta were asked to dress in clothing that corresponded with their chosen color and bring food items of that color. The idea for the festival came from TikTok.

To follow the two events already hosted, LSA will celebrate A Taste of Latin America Oct. 7 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Dawg House inside the Colvard Student Union.

Pitti said the event is a potluck where nine different Latin American countries will be represented. There will be music and dancing as well.

On Sept. 29, the MSU Division of Access, Diversity and Inclusion will host a Hispanic Heritage Month mixer for faculty and students from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Butler Guest House. Food will be provided.

Along with organization events, Mississippi State has been celebrating Hispanic heritage with themed exhibits on campus.

MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design has an exhibit featuring Latino architecture in the McNeel Gallery at Giles Hall. The Mitchell Memorial Library has a Hispanic Heritage Month exhibit as well.

"MSU hosts cultural events for students to be exposed to different cultures and then people from different backgrounds and different perspectives," Mamiya said.  

To explain what Hispanic Heritage Month meant to him, Pitti used the Spanish word "orgullo"— meaning pride in English.

"Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and to take pride in our culture," Pitti said.

LSA Historian Gonzalez said she grew up knowing little outside of her own Hispanic culture.

As she has gotten older, she has learned more about different countries in the Latino community. Gonzalez said that this knowledge is important for teaching others and learning about one’s own background.

Gonzalez offered advice to students searching for a place to find community at MSU.

"For any student that is feeling like they can’t find a sense of community and that they are missing home a lot, I definitely give advice to them to branch out and join clubs, like LSA, in the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center," Gonzalez said.

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