By Mary Nunez/reporter
The TCC community will show its appreciation for Hispanic culture Sept. 15-Oct. 15 through guest speakers, education and celebration.
During that celebration period, many Latin American countries celebrate the anniversaries of their independence from Spanish colonizers, such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras on Sept. 15, Mexico on Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept. 18.
The fall 2016 numbers for Hispanic population per campus included 25 percent on NE Campus, 23.6 percent at TCC Connect, 38.8 percent on South Campus, 35.5 percent on NW Campus, 31.6 percent on SE Campus and 43.7 percent on TR Campus, according to the district’s Office of Institutional Intelligence and Research Statistical Handbook.
Abrazando el Exito (Embracing Success) is a districtwide event where Hispanic leaders and panelists offer speeches and share their stories of success to encourage and inspire students and the community. The event goes to a different campus each year. NE Campus hosted it last year, and NW Campus will host this year’s event Oct. 5.
NE Campus dresses in multicolors displaying several flags of Hispanic countries, and many activities take place.
NE student development services director Victor Ballesteros explained the guidelines his staff follows when organizing the events.
“We want to have at least one thing each week,” he said. “We don’t want to conflict with other scheduled events, for what we schedule is only one thing on that date specifically.”
Many still ask why the celebrations are important. Ballesteros said two main factors back up the purpose behind Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Appreciation and knowledge,” he said. “I think it’s important for our Hispanic students or students with Hispanic culture to know that they are appreciated.”
Through this month not only Hispanics but also non-Hispanic students, faculty and staff can learn and appreciate the culture more, Ballesteros said.
“It’s important to celebrate the diversity that we have and the influences we have made in American culture,” he said.
During the summer, each campus’ Student Activities Committee plans the activities for Hispanic Heritage Month. Each uses the same guidelines, and all campuses offer speeches and panels with Hispanic leaders. However, they do come up with at least one activity that sets the campus aside from the others.
TR student development associate Kim Nguyen explained what TR usually does during Hispanic Heritage month.
“We have speakers and panelists from political backgrounds, business leaders and people with governmental jobs coming,” she said. “One thing that we usually do is we play Mexican bingo, or loteria.”
South student activities coordinator Ana Garcia also shared the activities that take place on her campus.
“We do a kickoff event,” she said. “We have food, presentations and do something related to the arts. We’ve had salsa dancing and guest speakers.”
Among the individuals who acknowledged the importance of this celebration is NE sociology professor Rosemary Mendez, who has participated in many district and many out-of-district events during that period and has been a member of the Hispanic Heritage Committee on NE Campus for over six years.
“It is essential that we as a community acknowledge the profound impact of our history associated with the Hispanic heritage,” she said.
Mendez said it is important to celebrate past and present Hispanic leaders across the U.S.
“Many influential leaders such as Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Nydia Velazquez, Henry Cisneros and Gloria Estefan have paved the way and broken barriers for other Hispanics,” she said.
NE sociology instructor Cheryl North explained the relevance of this celebration in the sociological aspect.
“As a sociologist, I think it’s important to explore a variety of cultures,” she said. “A good way to do this is through celebrating the history and traditions of various groups.”
By celebrating other cultures, people become more tolerant, North said.
“Through familiarity comes understanding,” she said. “We, as a society, are much less likely to marginalize or segregate a group that we know and understand.”
Several students agreed that celebrating Hispanic culture was relevant. NE student Denise Esqueda, who is involved in many school activities like the Soccer Club, Hispanic club TacheOLAS and Phi Theta Kappa, said this month is important to her.
“The United States is a melting pot of all kinds,” she said. “The activities are unique and special. We need to have one way to celebrate what unifies us for sharing the same heritage.”