HHM Celebrates Hispanic Culture
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 01:10
Music rang through Gasson at this fall’s Hispanic Heritage Month’s closing ceremonies. It was a Noche De Estrellas indeed. Both Boston College and local dance groups twisted and twirled in celebration of their home countries.
The ceremony opened with the desfile de banderas, a traditional Hispanic celebration of flags, dance, and dress. Each nation had a representative dance with its flag across the stage, as smiles lit up the room.
Event organizer Marcela Norton—born in Bolivia—wants the event to be an inclusive opportunity for all BC students. “We want everyone to be able to come and see [our cultures], because not everyone sees it,” Norton said. “The music, the culture, even the food.”
Norton doesn’t joke about the food. “We got traditional food,” she said. “We want everyone to come and try.” Norton’s inclusive attitude extends beyond her desire to feed—she is the director of human relations for Dining Services—and some of the dance groups had members of non-Hispanic heritages.
“It really felt like everyone came together,” said Liz Viruete, A&S ’14 who has roots in Guadalajara. “It’s great to feel like part of bigger whole.” Viruete’s sentiment speaks beyond her own experience and also about the way HHM works within the larger BC dynamic.
“There are a few other heritage months at BC,” Norton said. “They all receive funding from the Office of Student Affairs.” These other heritage months include Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Black History Month, and Native American Heritage Month.
HHM, which started in 2009, is the newest of the celebrations at BC. “Involvement of the students has grown a lot,” Norton said. “Before we started HHM there was only one student who wanted to start HHM.”
For Norton, the next challenge lies in keeping the performances fresh and exciting. “We try to bring some of those from outside,” Norton said, “but it can be difficult to fund them getting here. Transportation costs can sometimes be an issue as well. We have to give them something.”
“The group from [Lawrence High School] was great,” Norton said about the process in finding the dance team. “Someone from the [Lawrence] area asked a friend if they wanted to perform, and they did.”
Most of the dance groups are from the BC Community. “The Steering Committee picks groups to perform,” Norton said. “We usually know who we want, but we like to rotate and see who’s available. Some come back, like VIPs, to perform again.”
“We’ll have a meeting to wrap-up this year’s event before we begin planning next year’s in April or March,” said Norton about the preparation process. “In between those two, we’ll have Latino Family Weekend in February.”
The closing ceremony ended on a happy note. Even though the flags may be taken down 30 days after the celebration, the Hispanic pride will remain flying high.