LASO Celebrates Latino Heritage

Margaret Powers

The period from September 15 to October 15 is designated as National Latino Heritage Month, and Latino students at Colgate celebratd their heritage with a variety of events on campus, many of which will actually be held after the formal month declaration.

The month commemorates the anniversaries of the independence of many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile, although the month, as celebrated in the United States, applies broadly to all residents who trace their roots back to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Latino Heritage Month is a time for Latinos in the U.S. to celebrate their culture and traditions of their countries.

Students participated in a poetry night at the Edge Caf?e on October 3, headlined by a group of diverse Latino poets from New York City called El Grito de Poetas (The Cry of the Poets).

El Grito’s performance was sponsored by the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Undergraduate Studies as well as the departments of Africana and Latina Americana Studies and Romance Languages and Literatures.

On October 5, LASO held a brown bag lunch for students of Latino heritage to discuss the challenges of being a first- or second-generation U.S. citizen. Students spoke about their own experiences with cultural identification and disassociation, including differences in skin tone and the experience of their parents not teaching them Spanish.

“[LASO] members who were born and raised in America and were not taught Spanish growing up have often been scrutinized by peers who felt that for one to consider themselves Latino, they must speak Spanish,” senior LASO president Andrea Harrison said. “The language barrier is a huge factor that contributes to some feeling a disconnection with other Latinos that can speak the language.”

This Friday, La Casa Pan-Latina Americana is hosting its annual Haunted House from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Donations in the form of canned goods will be accepted at the door for the campus-wide Can Van food drive to benefit the Hamilton Food Cupboard and the Community Action Program of Madison County.

A second brown bag lunch, called “Latinas and Suicide: Exploring Societal and Cultural Factors,” will be held on October 31 and will focus on research by Washington University’s Professor of Social Work Luis Zayas.

On November 1, El Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, LASO will be hosting a celebration yet to be announced.

“Dia de Los Muertos is an ancient Aztec celebration of the memory of deceased ancestors embraced by many Latin American countries,” Harrison said. “Despite the morbid subject, the mood of the Day of the Dead is much lighter, with the emphasis on celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased, rather than fearing evil or malevolent spirits.”

On November 9, Rigoberta Menchu-Tem, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights advocate who has worked in Guatemala and other countries in the Western hemisphere, will deliver a keynote address to Colgate students.

Finally, on November 10 and 11, LASO and Colgate Activities Board: Take Two will offer screenings of The Motorcycle Diaries.

The mission of Latino Heritage Month, on the Colgate campus at least, is to spread cultural awareness, especially on a campus where the minority’s voice is not always heard.