Saginaw Valley State University’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration is underway.
Spearheaded by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA), the festivities range from concerts and crafts to educational presentations
The first official program was a concert in Saginaw’s Temple Theater. The concert, which was open to the public, staff, students, and alumni, was performed by the all-female ensemble ‘Flor de Toloache’
Angelica Johnson, a graduate assistant with the OMSA, has been working very closely on the planning of SVSU’s Hispanic Heritage Month’s activities, and weighed in on the subject:
“Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1969 as Hispanic Heritage Week, which was expanded to Hispanic Heritage Month in 1989 under the Bush administration, lasting Sept. 15 to Oct. 15,” she explained. “It’s usually thought of as a fiesta experience, but we do make it a point to think of the educational pieces of it as well.”
Events planned for the month include a craft night on Sept. 19, a resource day with a prize wheel on Sept. 23, and a Hispanic alumni meet-and-greet on Sept. 21, and many others.
Johnson touched on the planning process for these events, giving examples on how they connect students to authentic cultural experiences.
“We started in the office developing plans,” Johnson said. “We found annual programs like the Loteria Night, which will be Sept. 29 in the rotunda. (Events like this) bring in Spanish terms that are important to learn because they are expressive of Latinx culture. (In my family) we play it on a regular basis.”
Johnson went further, explaining her personal connection to Hispanic Heritage Month, both here at SVSU and in her family life.
“My first job here at SVSU was working on a heritage month calendar,” she said. “I got to think about what my culture and my family experiences were and spread awareness. Like with Loteria Night, I know the terms because of my grandmother.”
Authentic cultural programming has a big impact not just on the student body at SVSU, but our culture as a whole, Johnson explained.
“Students were so eye-opened to the culture,” she said. “We started small with our presentations, focusing mostly on colorism, immigration, and identity, international issues through Latinx culture.”
She elaborated on the progress that’s made through these experiences:
“I didn’t see the change my grandmother did, but now I’m making a difference for my society and the society on campus,” Johnson stated.
She also shared some closing hopes for both this heritage celebration, and future cultural celebrations.
“I’m very excited for everyone to come and learn,” she said “(I want people to) visit the Multicultural Centers programming and events this year around each Heritage Month.”
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