Students celebrate conclusion of Hispanic Heritage Month, highlight diverse communities on campus

Waving vibrant flags, blasting upbeat music and preparing cultural dishes, proud ‘Canes shared the richness of their cultures throughout Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) — Sep. 15 to Oct 15.

The annual HHM coincides with national independence days for several Latin countries including Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico.

Given that over 23.6% of UM’s student population identifies as Hispanic, the university’s student organizations collaborated to showcase the diverse cultures at UM and throughout the city of Miami.

“HHM means acknowledging and sharing the historical yet current contributions of current members of the Latinx and Hispanic community,” said Kennedy Robinson, assistant director of multicultural affairs for the university. “It means celebrating our students and the leaders on campus and really being able to display and show the culture here.”

Student cultural organizations across campus including Association of Latin American Students (ALAS), Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC), MexiCanes, Por Colombia, Salsa Craze and UFuerza collaborated to plan celebratory events throughout the month to teach students about aspects of their cultures.

ALAS organized several collaborative events throughout the month by uniting Hispanics of different backgrounds. They led an opening ceremony at the start of the month at the Rock with representatives from the Hispanic, Latino and Caribbean organizations on campus. Each table had various games and activities including trivia games based on hispanic countries.

The organization worked with other cultural clubs to set up events including a “Spanish Slang Off” and a HHM themed event with Category 5 at a football game. The organization held a “Latin Pool Party” with Hurricane Productions (HP) to end the celebrations for the month. Students were invited to decorate chanclas, which are a Mexican type of open-toed footwear and collaborate on other arts and crafts activities at the University Center pool.

“I am proud of being Hispanic and it brings me a lot of joy to share that feeling with the rest of the university through this month full of events,” said sophomore Juan Flechas, vice-president of ALAS.

Hoping to share their culture and history, FEC collaborated with ALAS, CAC and HP to do a screening of the musical “In the Heights.” Before the movie, the organization invited a band to play salsa music while students played dominoes and ate food provided by Vicky’s Bakery. Following the event, FEC partnered with UM dining to host “Taste of Cuba” or Cuban dining day at the university’s dining halls.

Students indulged in traditional Cuban foods including yuca, tostones and tamales. FEC followed the culinary celebration with a “Brave Spaces” event, hosted in partnership with the Multicultural Student Association, during which students were able to share their immigration stories and talk about pressing issues in the Hispanic community.

“Hispanic Heritage month is a way that we can embrace and celebrate our culture at the same time as spreading it around,” the secretary of FEC, Adriana Ramirez, said. “I personally was born in Cuba so it hits really close to home when I see things such as dominos or hispanic music around campus.”

Mexicanes, UM’s Mexican students organization, was relaunched during HHM after weeks of little activity. The group hosted multiple dinners at off-campus Mexican restaurants and a general body meeting to get to know new members. The organization celebrated Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16, with a meal where participants shared memories and bonded through their Mexican heritage.

“We plan on extending this celebration as Dia de los Muertos comes up by having a Loteria Night, a field trip to the Fort Lauderdale Festival and a “Coco” Movie Night with amazing food,” said junior Alexander Walch, vice-president of Mexicanes. Lotería is a Mexican game of chance sometimes referred to as Mexican bingo.

UM&squot;s Mexican students organization "Mexicanes" gather together at their first general body meeting of the year on Sept. 27. Mexicanes reunited during this year&squot;s Hispanic Heritage Month and hosted numerous events to celebrate their culture.
UM’s Mexican students organization “Mexicanes” gather together at their first general body meeting of the year on Sept. 27. Mexicanes reunited during this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month and hosted numerous events to celebrate their culture. Photo credit: Jessica Diez

Por Colombia held multiple events including a jersey day, during which members of other Hispanic student organizations were encouraged to wear their national team’s soccer jersey. They also held a “Cafecito at the Rock” event, where members passed out cafe con leche or coffee with milk.

The club members had the opportunity to get to know each other while salsa dancing and bachata. With hopes of bonding over soccer, they held soccer streaming events at their meetings.

“We did stream the soccer games at our meetings which brought a lot of soccer fans together to a point where we started an unofficial Colombia soccer team for intramurals,” said Flechas, treasurer of Por Colombia.

To learn about Latin dancing and music, ‘Canes also had the opportunity to learn traditional salsa dancing with SalsaCraze, as well as attend bachata workshops with UFuerza Latino Dance Team.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and serves as a time to celebrate Hispanic and Spanish-speaking individuals and cultures all over the world. Students interested in showing their cultural heritage are encouraged to reach out to their respective student organization for more information.