Hispanic Heritage Month, started in 1968, runs from September 15th to October 15th and celebrates the achievements and showcases the plight of Hispanic/Latinos in America. Although the “month” is really half of two different months, there is a reason. September 15th is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; Mexico celebrates its Independence Day on September 16th, while Chile celebrates Independence Day on September 18th and Belize on September 21st. Many students have misconceptions about the Hispanic/Latino culture and have limited it to farm workers, reggaeton, and Salsa dancing. There are more than 20 Spanish speaking countries with even more local dialects and native languages. The food varies from border to border, as well as the music, dancing, and traditional dress. There’s so much to learn, even for Hispanic/Latino students!

The Hispanic population in the U.S. has grown tremendously. Hispanics are now the largest minority ethnic group within the U.S. and North Carolina has had a helping hand in that growing number. North Carolina is a state whose Hispanic population has quadrupled since the 1990’s and NC State University’s Hispanic population has also steadily increased through the years. There are more than 700 Hispanic students at NC State, student organizations have become more abundant and campus offices have begun to focus more on the Hispanic population on campus. The six Hispanic/Latino student organizations on campus are: Mi Familia, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Destino (Bible study organization under Campus Ministries), Sube Ritmo (Dance team), Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. and LASA (Latin American Student Association). All of these organizations have worked diligently to bring Hispanic/Latino students together at NC State in an effort to provide a forum for all students to learn more about the richness of the culture and to provide a welcoming and comfortable learning environment.

Many students have heard of or attended programs hosted by these organizations such as: Salsabor, Somos, and Pi Chi Week. Salsabor is an annual fall cultural show to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month hosted by Mi Familia and SHPE. There are music and dance performances, traditional Hispanic cuisine and dance lessons from Sube Ritmo! Salsabor is going to be held this year on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. in the Talley Ballroom. The organizations on campus like to work together to show a broad spectrum of perspectives and ideas concerning the Hispanic/Latino community. There are many more events going on during Hispanic Heritage Month that showcase the beauty of the culture and you can get a complete listing of the calendar at http://www.ncsu.edu/msa/downloads/hlhm2009.pdf.

One campus office that has been instrumental in the success of Hispanic/Latino students on campus is the Department of Multicultural Student Affairs located in Pullen Hall. The staff members are very supportive of the Hispanic/Latino student population on campus and are always willing to assist in whatever way possible. The Assistant Director for Hispanic Student Affairs, Mr. Abraham Dones, came to campus in the summer of 2008 from Philadelphia, PA by way of proactive students, like Jezzette Rivera, who diligently pushed for a Hispanic/Latino student advisor. The addition has been a great success to the office and the NC State community and many students have been able to build a relationship with Mr. Dones. He has truly been vital in the success of students, programs, and Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time when ALL students can learn about the rich culture and history of our ancestors and embrace the diversity on our campus. We hope to see everyone at our future events to support and to meet members of the Hispanic/Latino community. NC State is a diverse group of educated students that will hopefully take advantage of all the opportunities to learn outside of the classroom.

By: Nicole Machado