APU Celebrates Hispanic and Latino Heritage

by Jody Godoy '05

Throughout October, APU joined the nation in celebrating Latino and Hispanic Heritage month. Student associations coordinated events recognizing Hispanic and Latino culture, giving students opportunities to develop social awareness and enjoy cultural pastimes.

Joy Hoffman, director of multi-ethnic programs, said the goals of the celebration were to recognize the achievements of Hispanic and Latino Americans as part of American history and culture, and to express America's rich cultural diversity. "There are many individuals who are competent in more than one culture. In this land of the free, they should have the choice to celebrate all of them," Hoffman said.

The month's events included a Salsa Coffeehouse with live music and salsa dancing lessons, and a trip to the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach. The student organization A.M.I.G.O.S. (A Mixed Intercultural Group of Students) hosted a talk from Ron Wilkins, professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, about the black population in Mexico.

A.M.I.G.O.S. hosts speakers like Wilkins each month to address diversity issues. Monica Barajas '05, a student leader in the group, said the organization "offers a forum for fellowship, education, and dialogue, so that students will better understand their own culture and other cultures represented in the APU community." The group meets Thursdays at 5 p.m. in the Shire Recreation Room.

This is the second year that APU has participated in monthly heritage celebrations. These allow for recognition of important ethnic figures in terms of their unique cultural backgrounds, and also for the universal significance of their accomplishments. Hoffman gave the example of Cesar Chavez, saying "[he] was more than an activist for Hispanic/Latino migrant workers - he represents dignity, passion, and healing. His accomplishments are part of a bigger picture: that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity."

On Thursday, October 23, at 7 p.m. in the MMED4 classroom on East Campus, a panel discussion will take place with APU faculty and staff about Latino culture in America.

Upcoming heritage month celebrations include Native American Indian (November), European (January), Black and African (February), Women’s history (March), and Asian Pacific (April).