Baruch College’s Latino Heritage Month began in earnest Sept. 1 with music, dancing and fun as students gathered for its opening ceremony, ¡Despierta Baruch!
The event drew students old and new as the smell of empanadas wafted through the Newman Vertical Campus. A line quickly formed around the empanada table, a feature of the event and students were able to taste mushroom, shredded beef and many other flavors of empanadas. Other activities at the opening ceremony included a photo booth with accessories for the students to take pictures together with friends and a DJ booth with Latino music manned by WBMB’s Kevin Zhagui.
The music quickly became the highlight of the event, as students were encouraged to pair off and dance in a competition sponsored by the Latino Heritage Month Committee. The prize was a gift card.
Tatiana Betancur, Latino Heritage Month committee chair and a human resources management major, emphasized the importance of the month by saying, “it’s fun, it’s showcasing the Latino culture and it’s also [educating] on what’s going on nowadays in our culture.”
As Baruch continues to retain its reputation as one of the most diverse colleges in the nation, Latino Heritage Month represents an opportunity for students of a commuter school to better know their classmates and classmates’ cultures. Zhagui, also the Ecuadorian Club president and a marketing and advertising major, explained, “we [extend the] knowledge of our own cultures to all Baruch students … You have to be proud of where you’re from, so Latino Heritage Month is just another way for us to have a month where we just express ourselves, be as free as we want to be and [enjoy] sharing our culture with everybody.”
Vlad Davidov, a finance major and attendee at the opening ceremony, was a student who benefitted from this cultural exchange. Enthused about what Latino Heritage Month is and how it may positively impact the Baruch community outside of Latino students, he said, “I think it’s a great event that promotes Latin American culture and it helps us Baruch students, especially me as a freshman, get better acquainted with club [hours on] Thursdays.”
He then elaborated further on how important the event is from a cultural perspective, saying, “we live in such a diverse country and diverse city [and have an] especially diverse school, it’s important that we learn about each other’s cultures and accept [them] and learn the differences.”
Other events for Latino Heritage Month promise to be even more entertaining than the first. “It’s events that we as students in the committee would want to go to,” said Betancur.
The next event after the opening ceremony is the “Sabor Latino” Food Fair on Sept. 8, where students will have the chance to sample traditional and street-style Latino dishes, followed by Latino Meet and Greet, a networking event with Baruch’s Latino faculty and staff on the same day. Latino Family Feud, held on Sept. 15, will pit clubs against one another in a gameshow inspired event with “a Latino twist,” while the Hablemos: Latino Community Talk, scheduled for Sept. 20, will gather panel members from Baruch’s Black and Latino Studies department for a discussion about the issues currently facing Latinos in the United States. Sept. 22 will hold the ¡Viva Latino! Music Festival, where Baruch students and guests will perform music, with finally the Nuestra Baruch Latina closing ceremony capping off the month on Sept. 29.
Nuestra Baruch Latina will be a pageant to display “the beauty and diversity of Latino culture by celebrating Latina women,” according to the Latino Heritage Month calendar. Betancur elaborated, “we’re looking for Latino Baruch female students to audition to be part of the pageant. It’s just going to be a great way to showcase our cultures because at the pageant we are also asking for some traditional looks for people to showcase their talents and stuff like that.”
While the events planned for Latino Heritage Month are for the entire student population, it is the Latino clubs that plan the month who gain an added benefit. Jennifer Gonzalez, treasurer of the Latino Heritage Month Committee and a finance major, explains in depth saying, “[Latino Heritage Month] shows the culture and it’s not just one specific country … it’s all the Latino community and [Latino Heritage Month] brings us together.” As September kicks off, that feeling for togetherness is only sure to grow.