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Celebrate Hispanic roots, diversity
Alex Morales
Antelope Staff
Photo courtesy of Office of Multicultural Affairs
Students Marco Vera Chavez, Nina Batenhorst and Jorge Ortega wear traditional Mexican clothing last year at the student union in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. This year pictures in traditional Mexican garb on Oct. 6.

Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture, kicked off at UNK with “El Grito,” or "Cry for Freedom "Sept. 15 at the Echo Circle outside the student union. The celebrations run through Oct. 15.

El Grito refers to the struggle for freedom celebrated Sept. 15, which marked the anniversary of independence from Spain for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico gained its independence Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept. 18.

Contributions from these countries have enriched American culture and the month of celebration is a chance to honor diversity brought by the Hispanic cultures.“Diversity is something that is part of what we are and what we do. Through teaching the language, we also teach the culture,” said Sonja Kropp, chair of the modern language department.

According to UNK Factbook, 2009 enrollment includes students from four Latin American countries and a total of 221 graduate and undergraduate students of Hispanic heritage.

Political science professor, Peter Longo, sees potential for growth in these numbers. “This is what makes UNK a place to become empowered. Diversity has the potential to make us all stronger,” he said.

The term Hispanic, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, refers to Spanish-speaking people of any race in the United States. The estimated Hispanic population of the United States is 46.9 million, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. This constitutes 15 percent of the U.S. total population.

Throughout the month, hundreds of celebrations across the nation will showcase the contributions made by those with Hispanic heritage. The celebrations range from art gallery exhibits and folkloric ballets, to official government festivities.
Some highly celebrated figures include civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor and baseball Hall of Famer, Roberto Clemente.

Here on campus, the Hispanic Student Association will host a series of events that display several aspects of Hispanic culture. Events include movie nights, brown bag luncheons, pictures in traditional clothes and handing out traditional snacks.
Junior Elizabeth Orozco, a secondary education major from Lexington, and HSA’s president hopes to provide knowledge to students with the events. “The purpose of our events is to spread diversity with the things that symbolize the Hispanic culture,” she said.

Orozco’s focus is also on letting people know about the roots of the Hispanic culture. “It is important for people to understand that it is more than one country that contributes to the Hispanic culture,” she said.
These celebrations are something new for junior Camila Parra, an economics major from Colombia. “Being from Colombia, celebrating your heritage is not a special event, but being in the States and seeing it happen makes me appreciate the things that make me unique,” she said.

Alex Nickman of Pleasanton, a junior majoring in finance, has experienced some of these events. “Coming from a small town, these events have helped me open my mind to other cultures and ways of life. Along the way I have learned to appreciate my culture even more,” he said.

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