September 15 marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Originally Hispanic Heritage Week, President Ronald Reagan expanded it to a month in 1988 to honor the rich and diverse legacy of Latin culture. This year’s recognition brings new student programming to Mercersburg.
The first event on campus was horchata, a popular drink in Hispanic countries, offered to students on the quad. “Hispanic Heritage Month is significant because it is important to honor the contribution that people of hispanic and latin heritage have given to not only our country but to the world,” says Jamar Galbreath ‘05, Assistant Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI). “It is also important to keep this recognition and celebrate it because culture should be shared.”
Students in the Latin/Hispanic Student Union (LHSU) will take the initiative in spreading awareness this month. Club president, Manuel Ponce ‘23, says, “The Latin/Hispanic Student Union is going to be supporting the Pulsera project by selling bracelets and giving all money made back to the corporation. We also are planning to open up a cafe night where students can come and enjoy some delicious food and drinks made by the members of LHSU! We are also planning to have a night where students can learn to dance some Bachata with their friends from your favorite dance teacher Mr. Bennett. Lastly, we are hoping to have some Hispanic alumni appear for a panel as a school meeting. We wish to shed some light on how Hispanics feel in the Mercersburg community from all different graduating classes.”
Members of both the DEI committee and LSHU are optimistic about the Mercersburg community learning a lot from the Hispanic Heritage Month events. “People have the opportunity to have a spotlight on Hispanic and latinx heritage and explore different parts of those cultures. There are a lot of countries and cultures that are all encapsulated in Hispanic Heritage Month, individual cultural nuances to connect, explore, and celebrate. The sheer number of different cultures that celebrate this month is astounding. It’s great that we get to reflect on it. By way of history, the United States Census did not add Hispanic as a racial and ethnic category until the 1980s- it took a lot of advocates to push for the addition,” said Galbreath.
Ponce shares the sentiment, saying, “I hope people can truly experience a bit of our culture through the events we set up for them. We are a truly diverse community and LHSU with the DEI community will do our best to represent all Hispanic countries through the month. It is especially hard since it is right off the bat of the school year but we will do the most with what we can!”