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Hispanic Heritage Month begins each year on September 15, celebrating the anniversary of independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during the month. This annual observance is a time for reflection and honor the generations of Latinx/Hispanics who have positively influenced, shaped and enriched this nation and society. This year, the Elon Community will have the opportunity to explore and immerse themselves into the Latinx/Hispanic cultures and identities through panel discussions, films, lectures, music, art, cuisine, sports and much more. 

Over the last few years, Hispanic Heritage Month’s events at Elon University have moved from consideration of the historical to the contemporary, from the way things were to the way things are now and shifting to the way things could be. Hence, we are all challenge to seize the opportunities we have as members of our campus community to get the conversation going, to learn about cultures other than our own and to learn about the contributions of those who share a different skin color than ours. 

It is important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Elon to learn about other cultures that will help us expands our horizons and will allow us to better understand those who are around us. We do this because our increasingly diverse community shows us the importance of how to communicate with each other in a respectful way. 

Furthermore, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month makes a positive impact not only in all the Elon student population but specially in our Latinx/Hispanic students. Why? In the same way that learning about the founders of this country instills pride in American students, learning about the contributions of Hispanic ancestors increases our Hispanic/Latinx student's identity development by making them proud of the role their cultural heritage has played in the formation of this country. Latinx/Hispanic students need to see their own faces reflected in the history of this country because it creates a connection between them and the past, and it motivates them to start thinking about how they can also contribute and make a difference themselves.

Hispanic heritage is American heritage and we need to find a path that includes all people of every background on the journey to a more inclusive country. Thus, let’s use this month as an opportunity to become more educated about Hispanic heritage and how it is reflected within America.  

Diana Prieto Viñas

Assistant Director of the Spanish Center in the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education