The University of Nevada at Reno kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month with the annual Tu Bienvenida event which invites Latinx students and staff to connect and recognize this community on campus.
Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, in the United States celebrates âThe stories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South Americaâ.
Originally created as a weeklong event under US President Lyndon Johnson, it was eventually transformed into the month-long celebration we now know as August 17, 1988 by US President Ronald Reagan.
The welcome event, held at Gateway Plaza across from the Joe Crowley Student Union, was not just a way for students and staff to have fun, but a way to bond with clubs and organizations on campus.
Fraternities like Nu Alpha Kappa (NAK) and Lambda Theta Phi (LTP), The Reynolds School of Journalism’s Noticiero Movil, the Latino Student Advisory Board and the Gender / Race & Identity Club are just a few of the few clubs on campus to take part in this celebration.
Richard Meza, President of Lambda Theta Phi, was there to promote his fellowship and engage other students like him.
âI think it’s just a great way to bring Latin culture to campus,â Meza said at the start of the event. âI know that if I hadn’t joined this organization some time ago, I wouldn’t have been able to see my culture up close.
While several clubs and organizations were in attendance to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, there were also lively performances for all involved.
One of these shows included traditional dances by Ballet Folklorico Pueblo Nuevo, a traditional Hispanic dance troupe from Reno.
With four different routines, from different age groups, they captured the audience’s attention.
The dance troupe weren’t the only ones showing off their rhythmic movements and timing. Gerzon Chaves, dance teacher at the Reno Ballroom, gave students a free cumbia movement lesson and sparked public interest with Caballo Dorado’s âPayaso de Rodeoâ.
Attending events like these doesn’t always mean having fun and playing, some students are there to celebrate their pride in who they are and what their community means to them.
Jasmine Ramos, an 18-year-old public health student, attended Tu Bienvenida because of her love for Latino culture and getting to know everyone in the square.
âI want to have different cultures and try to be part of each of them, like to learn more. For me, I’m Guatemalan, so I’m just learning the Mayan culture, the Quichean languageâ¦ Just speaking Spanish is a factor in all of this, with Spanish everyone is a bit united.
Echoing the same emotions Valeria Rangel, an 18-year-old business management student, is proud to be a Mexican Latina and dated Tu Bienvenida in hopes of getting to know the Latino community within the university.
âI am also Mexican and American and I am proud to be a Latin Mexican because Spanish is my mother tongue,â Rangel said at the event. âI am in love with my culture, I speak Spanish and I am myself. “
For these Latinx students on campus, events like this don’t just mean a way to collect free food and items, it’s a way for them to stay in touch with who they are inside and find a way to connect with others and their cultures.
The university, in partnership with the Latino Research Center and other such organizations on campus, will host events throughout Hispanic Heritage Month. To find out more visit https://www.unr.edu/latino-research-center.
Melanie Mendez can be reached by email at [email protected] or via Twitter at @MAizmeth.