Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrations at Wells

September 24, 2012

Wells College is pleased to announce various upcoming events in honor of 2012 National Hispanic Heritage Month. With the concerted efforts of the Wells College Spanish Club, Spanish faculty members and the administration, Wells College is offering Hispanic programming not only to its faculty, students and staff, but also to members of Cayuga, Tompkins and neighboring counties.

National Hispanic Heritage Month started September 15 and lasts until October 15. It honors the incredible heritage and growing contributions of Hispanics to U.S. culture each year. This celebration started in 1968 when Congress declared a week in September National Hispanic Heritage Week to celebrate the contributions and achievements of the diverse cultures within the Hispanic community. The dates were chosen to commemorate two key historic events: Independence Day of all Spanish speaking Central American countries—honoring the formal signing of the Act of Independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua on September 15, 1821—and Mexico’s Independence Day, which denotes the beginning of the struggle against Spanish control on September 16, 1810. It was not until 1988 that National Hispanic Heritage Week was expanded to a month-long period, which includes El Dia de la Raza on October 12, a day that celebrates the influences of the people who came after Christopher Columbus and the multicultural, multiethnic society that evolved as a result.

“In past years, Wells College has held a number of different events during Hispanic Heritage Month, but 2012 is the first year that there is a concerted effort for events to flow one to the next,” said Assistant Professor of Spanish Gerardo T. Cummings Rendón. Throughout the month, various display cases in Cleveland Hall and the Louis Jefferson Long Library celebrate entertaining or thought-provoking aspects of Hispanic culture. The displays feature Spanish language books and flags of Mexico alongside wrestling toys and original wrestling masks from Mexico. “All of these objects represent an important part of the Hispanic identity and are ripe for critical and psychoanalytical analysis,” said Dr. Cummings. “Visiting each of the displays allows the public to examine the Hispanic soul and to realize that Hispanics have become a commodity by toy manufacturers who cater to the powerful Hispanic buying market. Most of what is found in each of the displays is easily accessible to all consumers through Ebay and Amazon.”

Besides the displays, Wells College is offering a Hispanic Heritage Month film series. Students and community members first attended a screening of the film Rolling Family, an Argentinean film that many consider the South American version of Little Miss Sunshine. The second event is a showing of the Colombian documentary Impunity on September 27 in the Hostetter Lecture Room (209) of Stratton Hall. The third film screened will be the 2011 drama A Better Life on October 2, shown in room 108 of Cleveland Hall. The fourth and final film of the series, scheduled for October 11, will bring attendees back to Stratton 209 for a special presentation of the documentary Which Way Home, which earned a 2010 Emmy and a 2011 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. This showing will feature a Skype Q & A with Alma College’s Dr. Stephany Slaughter, one of the field producers of “Which Way Home,” who will recount all the challenges involved in the making of this film.

Last, but certainly not least, the Wells College Spanish Club is collaborating with the multicultural student organization P.O.W.E.R. in order to offer a special evening for Wells College students on Saturday, October 13. The Spanish Club will be hosting their annual Tapas Night with all sorts of Hispanic-themed delicacies to taste, and later in the evening, everyone will wear dancing shoes for a Latin dance night. More information on these events will be forthcoming.

All films, events and displays are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Facebook page of the Wells College Latino Cultural Network.

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