A month of cultural appreciation

The Latino Student Union is hosting a wide variety of events in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. The events began in mid-September and will continue until Oct. 18, featuring many activities from movie nights to cooking classes.

Members of the Latino Student Union, Anthony Cole, Javier Acuña and Kelsey Hernández help to host several events at UAA for Hispanic Heritage Month. Photo credit: Jay Guzman
Members of the Latino Student Union, Anthony Cole, Javier Acuña and Kelsey Hernández help to host several events at UAA for Hispanic Heritage Month. Photo credit: Jay Guzman

Hispanic Heritage Month is a national celebration that recognizes the cultures and histories of countries from Latin, South and Central Americas. Many of the countries have independence days within its time span, which represents a “big time of transition,” says Latino Student Union President Kelsey Hernandez.

Hernandez joined the club on a whim and now, a year later, is playing a major role in making the events within Hispanic Heritage Month possible.

“I went to one meeting and felt at home,” Hernandez said. “I decided this was something that I loved and wanted to give my heart, soul and time to.”

The Latino Student Union partnered with many other organizations, including the Anchorage Concert Association and the Multicultural Center, to bring the month of events to life. With the events ranging from fun and laid back to education-oriented, Hernandez hopes that there will be “something for everybody.”

Natalie Irvine is the secretary of the Latino Student Union. She sees the events within Hispanic Heritage Month as an educational experience for students.

“A lot of people have a stereotype of Mexican culture, but there is so much more to it,” Irvine said. “There are so many countries out there that get left out, and we want to make sure that they get the proper attention.”

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Samuel Prieto, vice president of the Latino Student Union, moved to Anchorage from Mexico City when he was 8 years old and learned English as a second language. The events within Hispanic Heritage Month have been both self-fulfilling for him and an opportunity to give back.

“It is really rewarding seeing the effect you have on the community. It gives you a sense of self-accomplishment,” Prieto said. “You’re making campus life more exciting and it’s a great feeling.”

Many Latin countries are represented by the members of the Latino Student Union, including Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. However, Hernandez emphasized that students do not need to have a Hispanic connection to attend their events or join the Latino Student Union.

“It’s not about what you are, it’s about who you are… you just have to have that same joy and love of wanting to learn about a culture,” she said. “You might just find another community that you didn’t know you belonged to.”

Coming up next in Hispanic Heritage Month is the Fireside Chat with Flor de Toloache and Agave Azul. The event features performances from an award-winning, all-female mariachi band along with a local mariachi. Fireside Chat takes place begins at 5 p.m. in The Den on Sept. 27.

The following week on Oct. 5, a movie night featuring Coco, the animated story of a young musician who seeks out his great-great-grandfather in the Land of the Dead, will take place in the Student Union cafeteria. The movie begins at 6 p.m., and snacks and refreshments will be provided.

On Oct. 9 from 6-8 p.m., a celebration will take place in the Multicultural Center honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The Native Student Council, partnered with the Latino Student Union, will host games and teach about both Hispanic and Alaskan Indigenous tribes.

Salsa & Ceviche Night will wrap up Hispanic Heritage Month on Thursday, Oct. 11 from 6-8 p.m. in The Den. For $7 as an individual or $10 as a couple, participants can make salsa and ceviche to take home. All supplies will be provided.

For more information and details on upcoming events, visit the Latino Student Union’s organization page on the UAA website.