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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Student organizations celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Latin American and Hispanic student organizations will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with dancing, music, food and more.
Jennifer Igbonoba | Staff Photographer
Students toed soccer balls across the bricks of Kogan Plaza last week during the Organization of Latin American Student’s kick-off for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Updated: Sept. 28, 2023, at 8:22 p.m.

Latin American and Hispanic student organizations said they plan to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month this year through events celebrating their culture’s music, food and traditions aimed at bringing community members together.

The annual monthlong celebration, which began Sept. 15 — the day several Latin American countries won their independence — honors the community’s achievements and contributions within the United States. Student organizations said they will celebrate the month with events that embrace the Latin Heritage Celebration’s theme, Ritmos y Raíces — rhythms and roots — by highlighting music.

A LHC committee, alongside the Multicultural Student Services Center, put on events to include all people from Latin American countries in programming in addition to Hispanic people, who are from Spanish-speaking countries.

It brings us together when we’re in a space like a university, where everybody might not be from the same place necessarily, but as soon as you turn on that music, everybody comes together.

— Sophia Martinez Tohmi

Executive board members of the GW Organization of Latin American Students said celebrating the month each year provides a chance for the Latino community to come together and celebrate accomplishments in the U.S.

“We’re part of this community in the United States that we’ve contributed so much in through our accomplishments, our culture as well as our pride in being Latino,” said sophomore Axcel Sanchez, the director of event programming for OLAS.

Maria Pita, a senior and the director of communications for OLAS, said the group hosted its first event of the month last week, Meet La Familia, where community members shared food like pupusas — a traditional Salvadoran dish of thick corn tortillas stuffed with various fillings — horchata and fruit served with chamoy and tajin. Pita said event attendees listened to salsa, bachata and cumbia music and learned about Latino and Hispanic heritage.

“You can really learn about our people, our countries via music so I feel like it’s very important,” Pita said.

Monica Carty, a sophomore and the group’s director of finance, said OLAS and LATAM@GW, a professional and research group for students interested in Latin America and the Caribbean, also held the Latinx Professors Dinner on Friday, where GW professors spoke about their experiences in higher education in the City View Room, offering students the chance to build relationships with faculty and receive career advice.

“It’s also a chance for students to think that, ‘Oh, if [they] did it, then I can do it too,’ like everything is possible,” Carty said.

Sophia Martinez Tohmi, a junior and the president of GW Casa Blanca — which aims to create a safe space for Latinx students — said Latino and Hispanic organizations on campus, in conjunction with the MSSC, have made an effort to allocate more time and resources into Latin Heritage Celebration this year than in past years to highlight the work of the community on campus. She said last year, the month was less organized and funding limited students’ ability to put on as much programming as this year’s month of events.

“This is my first year that I feel like we have had time to really spotlight who we are because I don’t think I’ve seen this much dedication to LHC month in the past,” Martinez Tohmi said. “It’s really great to see that there’s more attention to it.”

She said Casa Blanca is planning an event Oct. 6 in the MSSC, Bailando por Género Latines, or dancing through the genres, that follows the theme Ritmos y Raíces by offering a space for community members to dance to different genres of music, like merengue, salsa, bachata, reggaeton, norteñas and dembow. She said music often “transcends” borders between Latin American countries, acting as a symbol of multinational unity.

“It brings us together when we’re in a space like a university, where everybody might not be from the same place necessarily, but as soon as you turn on that music, everybody comes together,” Martinez Tohmi said.

Chantal Fernandez, the freshman representative for Alianza at GW — a student organization that seeks to empower Afro-Latinx students on campus — said the organization will start hosting Telenovela Tuesdays during Latin Heritage Celebration and plans to continue the tradition throughout the year. She said telenovelas were a large part of her upbringing in the Dominican Republic, where her family would come together every day to watch the shows.

She said Alianza hopes to implement the same community space for college students through the telenovela screenings.

“For all Latinos overall, telenovelas are a big part of our culture, just our upbringing,” Fernandez said. “I can say for me, I grew up watching telenovelas with my grandma and my mom, and I would say it’s a bonding experience with your family.”

Executive board members of GW Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers — a student organization working to advance Hispanic students in STEM — said they plan to partner with GW Fuego, a Latino dance team on campus, to organize bachata events —  a traditional style of dance from the Dominican Republic. Members said they will hold Bachata Sunday on Oct. 1 with GW Fuego, where they will teach bachata to students regardless of their experience.

“It’s a huge part of who we are and I feel like for us, wisdom comes from within too like we’re just born dancing and I want to express it,” said Annette Jiménez, a senior and the president of GW SHPE.

Javier Orellana, a junior and the president of UndocuGW — an organization that advocates for undocumented students and students with immigration-related issues — said his organization is focusing on mobilization and civic action during Hispanic Heritage Month. Orellana said UndocuGW will be hosting educational events aimed toward teaching students about immigrant youths’ experiences with deportation and the process of citizenship for these individuals.

“We’re trying to bring awareness of this idea of global migration as well as universal citizenship which means that we’re all humans, we all have migrated or our families or our ancestors have migrated somewhere else for a better life,” Orellana said.

This post was updated to reflect the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the MSSC hosted the Latin Heritage Celebration. The MSSC helped put on the events alongside a LHC committee. We regret this error.

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About the Contributor
Fiona Bork, Assistant News Editor
Fiona Bork is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication from San Diego, California. She is The Hatchet's 2023-2024 assistant news editor for the Student Life beat.
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