UVa Today: National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 17, 2009

(UVa )-The Latino Student Alliance will sponsor a series of events in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month at the University of Virginia, beginning Tuesday.

The events (complete schedule below) will range from film screenings to discussions and dances, with the collective goal being to foster "intra-community relations," according to Geril Garcia, a third-year foreign affairs major in the College of Arts and Sciences who chairs the Latino Student Alliance's programming council.

"We want to give the University community insight into how we fit into the U.Va. community and why we value the customs and traditions of our culture," she said.

The Latino Student Alliance is a student organization whose initiatives are encouraged and overseen by the Office of the Dean of Students. The organization was reformatted last year from the merger of two separate student groups, the Latino Student Union and La Alianza Coalition of Hispanic Latino Leaders.

The alliance now acts as the "umbrella organization" for more than 10 student-led, Hispanic/Latino-based organizations at the University, according to the Office of the Dean of Students.

Essentially, the alliance is "a network for the Latino community," said Amanda Perez, a fourth-year English and Spanish major in the College of Arts and Sciences and chairwoman of the Latino Student Alliance presidents' council. "All of the events put on are a collaboration between LSA and its constituent groups."

Although this is not the first observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month at the University, the Latino Student Alliance and its constituents have faced challenges in planning its events.

"There are a lot of challenges inherent in the timing of National Hispanic Heritage Month," said Phoebe Haupt-Cayasso, program coordinator of multi-cultural student services in the Office of the Dean of Students. The first few weeks of school are extremely busy for students, she said.

University data indicates that 4.2 percent of the students enrolled in U.Va. last year were of Hispanic American ethnicity. The relatively small number is just another incentive for the alliance's student organizers to spread the word about their "culture … and diversity, that often go unspoken-of on Grounds," Perez said.

"Our celebration is a recognition of our place at the University and in a broader national context," Garcia said. "We simply wish to say, 'We are here, and this is who we are.'"

The complete schedule:

Sept. 15: Lil' Taste of Cultura
10 a.m.-2 p.m., South Lawn
Handing out free Hispanic Heritage Month T-shirts and traditional Latin American baked goodies.
Location: On the South Lawn, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sept 15: Film Screening, "Los de Abajo"
7 p.m., Newcomb Hall Theater
Part of the Page-Barbour Series conference on "100 Years In Quest for Democracy: the Mexican Revolution Legacies and Debate"
Co-sponsored by the Spanish, history and media studies departments

Sept 22: Latino Greeks
7-9 p.m., Kaleidoscope, Newcomb Hall
Presentations to promote the only Latino Greek organizations at U.Va.

Sept 23: Conversations Amongst Communities
10 a.m.-2 p.m., Newcomb Hall South Meeting Room
Luncheon catered by Chipotle to open communication about the topic of divisions amongst communities.
Co-sponsored with Sustained Dialogue & Minority Rights Coalition

Sept 26: Copa America
1-5 p.m., Nameless Field
Soccer tournament to raise money to fund student-run service projects throughout Latin America.
Co-sponsored by Towards A Better Latin America, ISC, and IFC.

Sept 29: Fiesta Quinceañera!
7 p.m., La Casa Bolivar
Food and music from Latin America emulating a traditional quinceañera (or 15th birthday) with dances and fun festivities.

Oct 13: Film Screening, "La Cometa"
7 p.m., Newcomb Hall Theater
Part of the Page Barbour Series conference on "100 Years In Quest for Democracy: the Mexican Revolution Legacies and Debate"
Co-sponsored by the Spanish, history, and media studies departments

Oct 16: Flavors of Latin American Dance
7-9 p.m., Student Activities Building
Culture show featuring traditional and modern Latin American dances. Guest performances by NY Salsa Club, LUL regional team, LTA and the Latin Ballet of Virginia.

Oct. 16: Spice Up the Night!
Danny spinning Salsa, Merengue, & Bachata 10-11 p.m. and Hip Hip, House, & Reggaeton 11 p.m.-2 a.m., Baja Bean ($3 at the door)

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