Hispanic Heritage Month Closes on a Positive Note
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Sept. 15 may seem an unremarkable date for many students at Boston College, but for Andrea Lopez, CSON ’14, it marks the beginning of a month-long opportunity to express “Pride as a Latina and [to] educate those who don’t know a lot about Hispanic culture.”
Lopez co-chaired this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, a series of art presentations, lectures, discussions, and social events aimed at celebrating the Hispanic contribution to the American mosaic.
“Our purpose,” she said, “is to celebrate and honor Hispanic Heritage Month by reflecting that we as Hispanics are celebrated not because of our background, skin color, or language, but because of the impact we have made locally and nationally.”
With over seven successful events behind them, the organizers have already met and exceeded these objectives, and many are pleasantly surprised with the level of community support. Joana Maynard, senior assistant director, of the Office of AHANA Student Programs lauded the level of involvement at the opening ceremony.
“It was the beginning of the semester, and it felt like, wow, this is a community at Boston College that is not just reflective of one group of people,” she said. “It was the Boston College family coming out … and starting a celebration.”
Maynard, who organizes the events with Lopez and other students, noted with satisfaction that support for the celebration only grew from there.
“We had something called Bienvenidos with Latinos at BC, a faculty and staff organization of Latinos, in Gasson 100—it was packed,” she said. “We had students at all the tables … it was the kind of thing where different places [and] different groups on campus came together.”
Lopez and Maynard hope that this impressive turnout translates into a re-evaluation of the Hispanic identity, one that, in their view, is too often defined in superficial terms.
“We were very concerned that people have an image of what Hispanic and Latino ought to be,” Maynard explained. “You speak with an accent, or you have this complexion, or you’re from this state or another. We wanted to say that there are so many of us on this campus that don’t fit those stereotypes.”
The selection of this year’s theme, “Quienes Somos?,” meaning “Who are we?,” speaks to this critical issue. Reaching beyond racial and cultural pride, the theme seeks to characterize the role of Latinos in shaping the BC community and the nation as a whole.
With this vision in mind, Hispanic students shared their struggles with identity in a YouTube video created by AHANA staff, providing a more intimate perspective on what, for many, is an incredibly complex journey.
Representing over 20 different countries with a myriad of different cultural traditions, Hispanic students at BC face the daunting task of retaining the richness of their unique backgrounds while simultaneously molding an identity independent of their roots. Lopez, Maynard, and other organizers of the celebration hope that the events will bring students faced with this issue together in order to foster a sense of community and solidarity.
“There’s a lot more that unites us than separates us,” Maynard said. “So during this month in particular, we wanted to stop and say, ‘Hey, we acknowledge that we may come as a sort of rainbow, if you would, and we have different experiences and different backgrounds … but we still have this commonality.’ And so that’s what it’s about. It’s a celebration.”
It is a celebration that has, for many, facilitated the creation of a distinct Hispanic identity. Listening to the experiences and trials of their peers, Hispanic students have recognized that a greater community shares in their complicated journeys of self-discovery.
The Hispanic population at BC has undoubtedly enriched the University experience, and this celebration will serve to mold perceptions, build identities, and educate those ignorant of Latin culture and heritage. The festivities wrapped up with final Hispanic Heritage Month event, the closing celebration, this past Friday, Oct. 12 in Gasson 100