Hispanic Heritage Month emphasizes collaboration

Elise Tinseth

Beginning Sept. 15, Club Latino, the Intercultural Center and La Casa Hispana will be hosting a plethora of events on campus to celebrate and raise awareness for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Members of Club Latino include, from left to right: Eduardo Vasquez, Ashley Hansack, Cynthia Ramos, Fabiola Ochoa, Jackie Bonilla, Franchesca Cortes, Brenda Zarazua, Amalia Sletmoe, Hannah Horner, and Brian Acosta. Club Latino organizes many Hispanic Heritage Month events. Photos by Ben Woletz.

In past years, Club Latino celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with a tradition called grito de independencia on the steps in front of Penrose Library.

“At midnight on September 15, Mexico’s Independence Day, we come to the library to do a traditional grito de independencia, which is like a yell for independence,” said Co-President of Club Latino sophomore Fabiola Ochoa. “In Mexico at midnight the president goes to the socolo––the presidential building––and rings the bell. That is tradition.”

This year, the club will be including traditions and information from more than just Mexico, along with guest speakers, dancing lessons, food lessons, feasts in Prentiss and a closing ceremony on Oct. 13.

“We kind of want to encompass other Latin American countries versus just Mexico. That way the club feels a little more open,” said Ochoa.

Fabiola Ochoa ’15, one of the co-presidents of Club Latino, smiles outside of Reid after their second meeting of the year.

Helping them with these endeavors are the Intercultural Center and Matt Ozuna, interim director of the Intercultural Program and Club Latino’s adviser.

“I help Club Latino think big, bold and budgets. For instance, I encouraged Club Latino to engage the Whitman and Walla Walla communities in a variety of different mediums,” said Ozuna.

Club Latino is also working with La Casa Hispana for the closing ceremony to Hispanic Heritage Month on Oct. 13.

“We are collaborating with them and I am really excited for that because we didn’t really get to do a lot of events there [in the past],” said Ochoa.

The kickoff event is on Sept. 15, the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month. Club Latino will be working with Bon Appétit to serve Latin-inspired food in Prentiss Dining Hall. Then, at midnight, everyone is invited to join in grito de independencia.

The highlight of the celebrations is guest speaker Olga Loya, who will be speaking on Sept. 25 in Olin Hall 130. Loya will be presenting folk stories for both the school and the community.

“I think that she is going to give a kind of workshop. I think she is going to give tips on public speaking and how she got into storytelling. So basically we get to ask her what we want,” said Ochoa.

Club Latino hopes that bringing Loya to campus will engage the wider community.

“In Walla Walla there is a heavy population of Latinos. We’re hoping, through Olga Loya, to especially get a lot of community involved in that,” said sophomore Leslie Rodriguez, co-president of Club Latino.

Other events include collaboration with a music station and informational biographies about people important to Hispanic Heritage Month.

“The Intercultural Center and Club Latino hope to educate and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with members of the Walla Walla and Whitman communities so that they become aware of the histories, cultures and contributions of American Latinos whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America,” said Ozuna.

Another goal of Club Latino’s participation in Hispanic Heritage Month is to raise awareness of the club and to get Whitman students involved.

“There is the understanding that we all have to be Latino or we all have to speak Spanish in order to join Club Latino and that is not at all what we represent,” said Rodriguez. “I want Whitman to understand that and know more about our culture.”