HUG celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Dancers perform a traditional folkloric dance from Mexico at the end of the HUG banquet that took place on Sunday, Oct. 7 in Hege Library. // Photo By: Ethan Santana/The Guilfordian

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to for Lantinx to honor their history, accomplishments and goals, but it is also an opportunity for non-Latinx community members to show their support for the Latinx community.

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Hispanos Unidos de Guilford held a banquet in Hege Library on Oct. 7 to celebrate the cultural history and influences of Hispanic populations throughout the world. Embracing many aspects of Latinx culture, the banquet included a dinner of Mexican food, traditional Hispanic dances and a guest speaker from Guatemala.

“It is important as a banquet that we invite the community and that we have guest speakers,” said sophomore Ree Ree Wei, the treasurer of HUG. “It’s one way to bring out the visibility of Hispanic Heritage Month and make sure people know about it.”

To kick off the event, attendees were invited to indulge in Mexican food catered from Cerritos Cantina in Chapel Hill. Following the dinner, guest speaker and Guilford alum Jose Oliva shared some words about his experiences coming to America and what the community, should do to make a difference.

“I think the fact that we are all here enjoying a meal is not an accident,” Oliva said. “There were people who fixed problems and made it possible for you to be here and for you to go to school here. Not everyone started from the same place and I think that is important to recognize.”

Although Oliva drew from his past experiences, he also looked toward the future and called on the audience to make changes within their community.

“We have a duty to help others and I think that takes forms in different ways, from voting to volunteering to just sharing with people what we know,” Oliva said. “There are around one million Latinos in North Carolina and no representation in the Senate and that’s absolutely wrong and something we need to change.”

As a grand finale to the banquet, HUG organized three groups of dancers to perform traditional dances. The performances reflected the diversity within Hispanic culture and included dancers from all ages.

Many attendees demonstrated a sentiment of support and excitement, with many coming to support their Latinx friends. Junior Chicago Colvin came to show her support for her friend from Guatemala, junior Karla Goss.

“I heard about it through my friend, she’s Guatemalan. And my other friend, she’s Thai and Mexican,” Colvin said. “They’re Hispanic, so I came to support them and their culture.”

Others attended the banquet to learn more about Hispanic culture, such as junior Hollie Harrison.

“The food was great, and I liked the dancing and the music,” Harrison said. “Spanish is my minor, so I like to learn about (the culture).”

Most attendees came to the banquet to celebrate who they are and to take advantage of Hispanic Heritage Month and its ability to bring people together. Dancer Crystal Cordoba-Santos from Oaxaca, Mexico, reflected personally on the month’s meaning.

“To me, it kind of just means being able to express where I’m from, show our different cultures and dances that people don’t get to see,” Cordoba-Santos said. “We get to show what we really are, not what other people think we are.”

Kendra Guzman, a junior and president of HUG, also viewed the month as an opportunity to get others involved in her own culture.

“Hispanic Heritage Month (means to me), I wish it wasn’t only a month. (You) celebrate your culture every day,” Guzman said. “It’s just, I guess, a special month where I get to celebrate not only my culture but the culture of others.”

The month even held significance for those who are not Hispanic or Latino.

“Although I’m not a Hispanic or a Latino, just coming from a different background and being at this institution and having friends that are Latinx, I feel like it’s important that I celebrate with them,” said Wei.

“It’s important that I’m here with them to celebrate their culture and to uplift one another and to empower one another, and I think that’s what everyone should do during a month such at this.”