La Unión Hispana kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 15 with games, snacks and music. The event provided a space for students to celebrate Latin American culture and marked the beginning of a month celebrating Hispanic history nationwide.
Hispanic Heritage Month is an important event for the Latin American community in the United States, said Spanish professor Pilar Cabrera, the club’s faculty adviser.
“It’s a space that allows pride in and gets back Hispanic historical figures, Hispanic women and men that have had a lot of importance and significance in the history of the United States,” Cabrera said.
For Latinx Augustana students, Hispanic Heritage Month has personal and historical significance.
“Hispanic Heritage Month was really big growing up,” sophomore Yessenia Ortiz, the club’s vice president, said. “Just because it does celebrate independence, and it’s like the equivalent of the Fourth of July, just like for the whole month instead of a day. It kind of just helps celebrate everything we’ve accomplished, whether here in the United States or outside of it.”
Ortiz said she thinks the purpose of La Unión Hispana as an organization is to help students feel more comfortable by connecting them with their culture.
“It’s a Latin American club on campus to help students to feel at home far away from home,” Ortiz said. “It gives them a sense of identity and a place where they can be themselves in a place where a lot of people don’t really look like them and helps celebrate their culture.”
Games at the event included Lotería (similar to Bingo), dominoes and Monopoly. There were also Latin American candies, ice cream and fruit. Ortiz explained that many club members grew up with these games and snacks, so they help them feel connected with their homes and cultures.
According to Cabrera, La Unión Hispana plays a role in connecting Augustana students with very different backgrounds.
“The most exciting thing about La Unión Hispana is the way in which it can bring together very different people, people with different origins, different life experiences and different knowledge of Spanish and of English.” Cabrera said. “What’s fascinating for me is how La Unión Hispana has promoted conversations, dialogue and consciousness between these people, and even though they are very diverse, they have something in common, and that something is culture.”