SJU celebrates Latino Heritage

St. John’s recently hosted its annual Latino Heritage Week, which ran from September 21-27. The event was organized by the Office of Campus Activities, the Office of Mulitcultural Affairs, and the Latin Heritage Committee.

Latino Heritage Week began with a barbecue in the Residence Village, and was followed by an opening party at the UC Commons. At the party, students were invited to learn traditional Latin American dances, such as salsa, bachata, and merenge.

In addition to exposing students to traditional dance and food, students were able to attend various lectures as part of Latino Heritage Week.

On Monday September 24, a lecture entitled “Globalization: Friend or Foe to Latin American Countries” discussed the pros and cons of globalization in developing Latin American countries. Speakers Erick Gomez, Associate Professor and Chair, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Jose Luis Morin, Entrepreneur and Business Instructor at Baldwin Senior High School, discussed aspects of globalism including business, politics, culture, human rights, and the environment.

On September 26, playwright Linda Nieves-Powell from Latino Flavored Productions presented her award-winning play “Yo Soy Latina!” The play covers topics such as Latino stereotypes, the importance of diversity, and the need for tolerance. And, according to a university press release, the play “has become the national voice for Latina women all over America.”

Students were also able to take part in The Interracial Forum, which gave them the opportunity to share their experiences and express their opinions concerning interracial dating and marriage.

Latino Heritage Week also served as an opportunity for students to get involved serving the community. The Latin Heritage Week Committee participated in Service Day on September 22. Volunteers went to the senior housing complex, Nathan I. Nagler Queens B’nai B’rith House, to help with the daily programs.

This annual weeklong celebration came to a close with a dinner at Marillac Terrace. Students and faculty were able to “enjoy rezo (prayer) and comida (food),” according to a university press release. Dr. Alina Camacho-Gingerich, Chair of the Committee of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, gave the keynote speech at the dinner, ending a week full of fun, information, and community service. She noted that Latino Heritage week was about “acknowledging, celebrating, and supporting Latino culture”.