Latino Heritage Club collaborates with others for Latino Heritage Month


Photo: Ryan Damman/Iowa State Daily

Brian Castro, senior in civil engineering, participates in Marcha de las Banderas, or March of the Flags, in celebration of Latino Heritage Month on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

Katherine Marcheski

The Latino Heritage Committee dedicated a month for celebration and education about Latino culture and issues in 1992, the year the committee was formed. Sandy Velasquez, president of the committee, said this year is another great lineup of events, community outreach and cultural expression.

“The purpose is to plan events to educate the community about Latino culture, but to also outreach to the community with events,” Velasquez said.

Velasquez said educating the public about Latino conflicts and culture is important, and the committee is open to anyone interested in the cause. The Latino Heritage Club also collaborates with other multicultural groups on campus and strives to help them and promote their events as well.

The dedicated time span for Latino Heritage Month Sept. 15 to Oct. 20. This year, they are coordinating with the culture night hosted by Puerto Rican Student Association and hosting three different lectures. Two of the lectures are based on the impact and promotion of voting in elections, placing the importance on multicultural students’ voting, hosting community service events and a cultural celebration night.

Cultural activities include salsa and dancing nights, which will both be held in early October. There are also efforts being made for community service and public outreach by the group.

“We are hosting a class on Sept. 30 for Latina women in the community that teaches a variety of basic computer skills. We’re also hosting a poster-making and presentation night at the Ames Public Library for school children to present small projects about the Latino community,” said Adele Lozano, the group adviser and program coordinator at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Lozano said the month-long celebration is integral for the whole community, not just Latino students.

“With the growing Latino population in Iowa, faster than other racial ethnic groups, it is also growing at Iowa State, and it’s important to recognize that and the impact it will have,” Lozano said. “The campus is becoming more diverse, and it’s becoming more important to learn issues, heritage, culture, and understand these on a local, state and national level.”

Lozano said the ultimate goal is for cultural diversity to become threaded throughout campus for the whole year and for students to pay attention to different groups all the time.

“This obviously doesn’t happen, so that’s why paying special attention [during] certain months [is] important,” Lozano said.

The larger community of Latinos allows opportunities to gain awareness of issues that people may not know about and allows for the spread of more culture.

“It’s important to not only have, but to recognize a diverse community,” Lozano said. “We have to stop looking at the community as the ‘majority’ against the ‘others,’ but rather as a community that is one and made up of different populations.”

Lozano said she hopes that Latino Heritage Month will open up people’s eyes, and that the ISU community can continue to grow in cultural unity, instead of division.