St. John’s celebrates Latin Heritage Month

The month of October kicks off Latin Heritage Month at St. John’s. New events have been added, as well as some old favorites returning to make this year appeal to students of any ethnicity.

This year’s theme “Cultivando Nuestro Futuro: Cultivating Our Future” certainly appears to fit the undertone of the events. From discussions on the Latin American cultural experience to the Carnival: Fiesta Mi Gente, October will certainly be a celebration of Latino history as well as its future.

Perhaps the most compelling event of the month will be the Community Dinner with keynote speaker Alina Fernandez on Oct. 26. Fernandez, the illegitimate daughter of Fidel Castro, is the author of Castro’s Daughter: An Exile’s Memoir of Cuba. Although raised under Castro’s command in Cuba, Fernandez was cast out of the country for her vocal opposition to her father’s establishment.

With the previous years, Latin Heritage month has encountered several problems, from budget issues, scarce promotion, and most of all, a lack of student involvement.

To solve budget and promotion matters, the Latin Heritage Month Planning Committee, consisting of faculty and students, reached out to other organizations on campus such as the Student Programming Board, for assistance with financing certain occasions. The committee also relies on the student cultural organizations such as the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) and the Hispanic Cultural Society (HCS) to spread the word

To combat the apathy, the board diversified the events while still keeping them under the umbrella of the Latino culture. Case in point, a discussion on minority healthcare on Oct. 13.

The committee also utilized Reggaeton’s movement to mainstream and popularity to their advantage. A forum on the “Origins of Reggaeton” on Oct. 6 is a discussion on where the music originated and how it continues to develop. The forum is excellent preparation if you are interested in dancing to Reggaeton at the Oct. 7 “Fall Out Party” in the UC commons.

However, the entire month is not full of just dancing and discussions. There is the Dramatic performance of “Platanos and Collard Greens” on October 19. Classified as a “hip-hop drama that examines stereotypes and cultural differences,” it is an old favorite at the University and has returned for another year.

There are also opportunities for current St. John’s students to meet up with alumni. One such opportunity was the Oct. 13 Count On Alumni for Career Help (COACH) panel discussion, where Latino alumni discuss their experiences in the work force.

There is also a community service aspect. Students can volunteer for the Oct. 15 Hunger Relief Run, in which they will participate in offering meals and other necessities to migrant workers around the community.

October is a celebration of the Latino community, and a great deal of hard work was put in to benefit the St. John’s community. For more information on events check St. John’s Central.