Embracing Hispanic Heritage ‘Para la Raza’

Colorful kites flew high over the quad and salsa music rang out at “Hangueando en San Juan,” a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The student club La Raza collaborated with the Campus Events Council and Multicultural Initiatives Office to host the main event in a month-long commemoration of Hispanic and Latino culture, this year focusing on Puerto Rico.

Illustrating the diverse backgrounds within Hispanic culture, students safely came together both to celebrate their own heritage and to learn about their peers’. To conclude the festivities of Hispanic Heritage Month, members and leaders of La Raza share their reflections with The Bell:

Joanna Echtenkamp ’21 | Roots run deep

“Being Latina of Puerto Rican descent has played such a significant role in my life because it has provided me with a plethora of rich experiences from my culture and a strong communal identity. The aspect of my heritage that is most important to me is recognizing that my Taino roots run deep, and they are what make me who I am today! I am proud to celebrate my culture and the beauty that is seen through our rich foods, music and most importantly our love for one another. Wepa!”

Mariel Cedeño ’22 | A shared identity

“During this month, the acknowledgement of my culture’s history has been most impactful in my life. We are often bombarded with images of important historical figures that don’t look, talk or come from the same place as us, but during this month, it is those whom I share a cultural identity with who are highlighted.”

Jason Lopez ’23 | Music for every mood

“Our music is top tier. From reggaetón to cumbia, there’s always a beat for the type of mood you’re in.”

Daniela Sintuj ’23 | Bilingual blessing

“Since I was little, being bilingual has helped me serve my parents, my family and my church. I value language because it was the most evident way of connecting to my culture. I love being Latina.”

Davi Viera ’22 | Part of the family

“One aspect of my heritage that has been most important to celebrate is family. Blood related or not, we still treat each other like you’re a part of our family. I have always been taught to treat everyone like they are [my] brother or sister by showing compassion, respect and love.”

Shari Soza ’23 | Community and hospitality

“This year I have focused a lot on the community and hospitality aspect of my Latino heritage. Being given the opportunity to be a part of La Raza and include the entire Gordon community in my Puerto Rican heritage in events this month has been incredibly uplifting.”

Lindsey Morales ’21 | Stand by your family

“Growing up, I remember seeing how important it is to stand by your family. The family is a unit that isn’t necessarily just made up of blood relatives, but really of those who support and love one another. I’ve learned to be there for my family through the hard times and to celebrate in the joys of life. This is what celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month means to me.”

Maria DeOliveira ’21 | A seat at the table

“The most important aspect of my Brazilian heritage that I would like to acknowledge is the significance and emphasis of family and community. In Brazil, we are proud to make deep intentional relationships with everyone we meet. We always have an extra seat at the table for anyone. It is encouraged to bring that sense of belonging, trust and comfort to those around us.”

Laura Alarcon-Solsol ’22 | At the core of who I am

“Hispanic Heritage Month has reminded me of the importance culture plays in my identity. It is at the core of who I am, and every morning [for] this past month this truth has resonated with me.”

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By Ellian Chalfant ’22, communication arts