Hispanic Heritage Month begins today with ceremony

Cavan Reagan

If Leticia Romo had her way, educating students about her heritage would be a year-long event.

This isn’t to say Romo isn’t happy to be the chairwoman of the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee.

She said she wishes she could share her heritage with the university for more than just one month.

“I really want to emphasize that even though we are this one-month celebration, the learning of the culture really needs to go on throughout the year,” said Romo, junior in business.

“I’m glad that we have a month, but I wish it would be year long.”

The theme of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month is “Latinas y Latinos: The Next Generation.”

The month-long celebration begins today and ends Oct. 14, just after the Ames-wide celebration of FACEs, Families of Ames Celebrate Diversity. The schedule of events includes discussion groups, picnics and performances.

“We got everything set up [last spring], so as soon as we got back, we could jump on the ball and take care of everything,” Romo said.

She said she is excited about the four weeks of events, particularly a discussion group called “Against our cultural norm: Latinas on today’s society,” which is held by the YWCA.

“We’re going to have a lot of discussions about Latinas in today’s society,” Romo said. “It’s really difficult because obviously in today’s society, [women] have the choice to be somebody, but at the same time you have this pressure of staying at home.

“I’m excited about that just to see how other Latinas feel about that – how they react to that pressure,” she said.

Those who attend the events will be able to teach, learn and share their heritage, said Yanira Pacheco-Ortiz, adviser for the Hispanic Heritage Month committee.

“This is an opportunity for everybody to come together and share their heritage,” Pacheco-Ortiz said.

Romo said Hispanic Heritage Month will also provide a forum to battle stereotypes.

“Everybody brings their own taste to the university,” she said. “We’re just showing them our way.”

The opening ceremonies for Hispanic Heritage Month are 1:30 p.m. today at the Border Crossing Statue, south of LeBaron Hall.

Although the ceremony originally was planned to be a festive event, the attacks on the East Coast caused the committee to rework the event to be more spiritual and reflective, Pacheco-Ortiz said.

“We toned it down completely,” she said. “It will definitely be more sensitive to what happened.”

Also, due to the Iowa State-Iowa game being postponed, the dance scheduled for Saturday may be canceled, Romo said.

“They’re cutting [the opening ceremonies] short just out of respect for the tragedies that the nation has suffered,” Romo said.

“I know [the committee] originally planned for a dance Saturday night, but there was talk of canceling that.”

Other events planned for the month include a performance by Fantasia Juvenil, a dance troupe from Chicago; “Connecting La Cultura,” a panel discussion; a poetry reading at the Boheme Bistro; and “Noche de Cultura,” a talent show.

Information brochures and a schedule of events can be obtained at the Office of Minority Student Affairs.