Hispanic Heritage Month begins, UCF plans events
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 17:09
Saturday signifies the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month. With about 18 percent of the UCF population identifying as Hispanic, the Multicultural Student Center and the Hispanic American Student Association are working together to highlight the celebration through a variety of events.
Created in 1988, the theme of the month celebrates the various cultures, histories and contributions to society that the Hispanic population has made over the years. Hispanic Heritage Month starts on a significant day in Hispanic history: the anniversary of the Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua each gaining their independence. Mexican and Chilean independence days also fall within the month.
“It is a way to commemorate and celebrate the people where a large part of our student body comes from,” Cynthia Florentino, the leadership committee coordinator of the Multicultural Student Center, said.
Gustavo Ballesteros, a sophomore marketing major, found Hispanic Heritage Month comforting because of how it highlighted the contributions of his heritage.
“Hispanic Heritage [Month] symbolizes all the struggles that my family and countless other families have gone through in order to settle down in this country; learning a new way of life while preserving their culture but still moving forward to a brighter future. With so many issues arising in the Hispanic community, especially in regards to legal status, it’s comforting to have a month where all the remarkable things that the Hispanic community has contributed, not only to this country, but the world as well, are being celebrated and recognized,” Ballesteros said.
Jason Murillo, the treasurer of HASA, used Hispanic Heritage Month and his organization to teach the UCF community about the Hispanic culture.
“It’s important for UCF to know about Hispanic Heritage Month because it’s one of the things we can do to spread the influence of our culture and dispel any stereotypes people might have about Hispanic people. We believe it’s important that [they] feel full support in regards to their heritage,” Murillo said.
Hispanic Heritage Month is geared toward all Hispanic cultures from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central/South America. Both HASA and the MSC created activities that would incorporate all of the cultures and not limit the month to one.
“We have a lot of Caribbean, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Colombians just to name some. I am in charge of two Hispanic Heritage Month events, so it was really about, ‘How do we go about this so when we create an event that it does not focus on one nationality but all of them?’” Florentino said.
Both organizations are holding events throughout the month, like a comedy night, Jeopardy: Latino Edition, So You Think You Can Zumba and a domino tournament. The events were catered to teaching students about the Hispanic culture.
“It’s rather easy to create an event that appeals to all nationalities. For example in the domino tournament, there will be people there that will say ‘Do you know how to play? Do you want to learn?’ You do not have to know the language to participate, just have the willingness and an open mind to capture what is going on,” Florentino said.
HASA, whose goal as an organization is to showcase the Hispanic Culture at UCF through a positive atmosphere, planned all year for Hispanic Heritage Month.
“As to what [Hispanic Heritage Month] means for the club, first it’s important to point out that it is a student organization and categorized as cultural/ethnic. Therefore, HHM is extremely important for the group. It is the primary focus of programming in the fall and planning for it goes on throughout the academic year, including and especially in the summer,” Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés, an associate professor of English and the academic faculty adviser for HASA, said.
Due to SGA funding, HASA is able to put together a bigger event than in years past. While the funding aided in expenses, the students of HASA still needed to fundraise, through events like volunteering at football games as ticket takers and donations.
“We are receiving SGA funding for Hispanic Heritage Month, but they only cover a certain percentage of the cost, the rest of which we have to raise through fundraisers,” Murillo said.
To find out details about the events and ways to get involved, join HASA’s Facebook group, HASA @ UCF.