Latino Heritage Month in full swing

As September draws to a close and cold temperatures begin to set in, Latino Heritage Month is just heating up.

With events ranging from “El Grito” to “S-E-X-Oh,” the Latin American Cultural Center is focusing its heritage month — which runs from Sept. 15 until Oct. 15 — on two themes: politics and family unity. Last year, Cultural Center members emphasized Latinos in the arts.

“It’s tough for a lot of Latino students living away from families given that many of them have strong family ties,” said La Casa student coordinator Benjamin Gonzalez ’09, chair of the Latino Heritage Month Planning Committee. “The goal was to honor family … [and] to try to make Yale more homey.”

Gonzalez added that the installment this year of new Ezra Stiles College Master Stephen Pitti, who is Latino, has made it easier to create this sense of home for Latino students. On Oct. 7, the Cultural Center will host a reception at the Stiles master’s house.

Pitti said such events — which Cultural Center members emphasized are open to both Latinos and non-Latinos — will bring together a mix of students from across Yale College and the graduate and professional schools.

“There’s been an explosion of Latino organizations on this campus in the last 10 years,” he said. “Students have found many ways to come together in ways that represent their diversity but also in ways that represent their commonalities.”

As part of Latino Heritage Month, students were asked to bring to La Casa photographs of individuals who are important in their lives, Gonzalez said. The images, as well as written statements explaining their value to each student, will be displayed at La Casa, he said.

Rosalinda Garcia, director of La Casa and assistant dean of Yale College, said the month will both celebrate Latino heritage and raise awareness about the contributions of Latinos to U.S. culture.

Guest speakers during the month are meant to represent a variety of different fields in which Latinos have made their mark, she said. Quiara Hudes ’99, a Tony Award-winning playwright, will speak at La Casa later in October, Garcia said. Other guests will include Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican congresswoman from Florida, and Lydia Villa-Komaroff, a microbiologist renowned internationally for her research on insulin.

The month’s festivities also mark a significant increase in collaboration between undergraduates and members of Yale’s other schools, Gonzalez said, mentioning the role of professional school students in helping to organize events at La Casa.

“We’re really excited to have broadened our horizons with everyone else in the University community,” he said. “We’re hoping to make sure La Casa can be a place for grad students to come — not just Yale Latino undergrads.”

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