Burlington resident Lorena Meza Lara spent her early childhood growing up in Mexico. She played outside until the sun went down and would pick out shapes in the stars. She remembers getting her allowance and walking to the corner store for a raspado, a snow cone with fruit. She walked to and from school everyday.
Meza Lara shared these memories, central to her Hispanic identity, during the “Perspectivas: From Surviving to Thriving” event Sept. 21 to 22 to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to start with childhood memories is because when you think either of yours or when you listen to your parents or your grandparents talk about their memories: it’s the community,” Meza Lara said.
Originating at Elon University almost ten years ago, “Perspectivas” focuses each year on an important issue within the Hispanic community. This year, its focus was health and wellness, according to Sylvia Muñoz, director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education.
“We go with … a common theme in the Latino community or in the general community,” Muñoz said. “I think also we look at what Elon is doing, and wellness and well-being is one of the major goals that we want to achieve here.”
Assistant Director of CREDE Maria Jose Larrazabal said the theme of health and wellness can take form in a number of ways.
Larrazabal planned all of the CREDE events for Hispanic Heritage Month. Topics of the “Perspectivas” series included the importance of voting, mentorship and community, as well as a look into healthcare for Latina women in Alamance County.
“When we think of health and wellness, we tend to think of physical stuff, but if anything, COVID has brought up the conversation on mental health and emotional health, and that's just as important,” Larrazabal said. “I just want them to come out learning a bit more about our community, if they are a part of the community and I want them to learn more, because even if you are part of one community doesn't mean you can't keep learning.”
Larrazabal took the position in February, and this is her first time planning the events. She said she has a lot of ideas on how to grow “Perspectivas,” including making it an event that anyone in Alamance County can attend.
“I just think it's one thing to reach our Elon community, but being able to invite back alumni and just like the greater Alamance community and having them also learn,” Larrazabal said. “I just want more people to hear about our community, what it means, how to get involved.”