Events for National Hispanic Heritage Month

October 8, 2013

Wells College is pleased to announce the various events that have been on-going on campus, in honor of 2013’s National Hispanic Heritage Month. With the concerted efforts of the Spanish Club officers, Spanish faculty members Elizabeth Juarez-Cummings and Gerardo Cummings, Louis Jefferson Long Library's Acting Director Lisa Hoff, and the supportive administration on campus, Wells College is offering Hispanic programming not only to its faculty, students and staff, but also to members of local communities.

National Hispanic Heritage Month started September 15 and lasts until October 15. It honors the incredible heritage and growing contributions of Hispanic people 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.

Celebrations throughout Wells College started on September 15, 2013, when various display cases in Cleveland Hall and the Louis Jefferson Long Library were set up to celebrate entertaining or thought-provoking aspects of Hispanic culture. The displays feature toys, t-shorts, rag dolls and wrestling masks (pictured above).

“All of these objects represent, in their own way, a microcosm of the Hispanic world,” said Dr. Gerardo Cummings, Assistant Professor of Spanish at Wells College. “Visiting each of the displays allows the students, faculty, staff and the general public to examine the Hispanic soul and to realize that Hispanics have even become a commodity by toy manufacturers who cater to the powerful Hispanic buying market. Most of what is found was purchased at stores such as TJ Maxx, Target, Marshalls, K-Mart, etc.”

Besides the displays, Wells College has been showing Hispanic films on campus as part of the course SC 101: Hispanic Cinema and its Contexts. The last two weeks of Hispanic Heritage Month will be an opportunity for students and community members to attend the following film showings—some are part of the SC 101 course—but that nevertheless will welcome all visitors:

Wednesday October 9 (1:30 - 3:00 p.m.) in Cleveland 208: Bella. This film has won multiple awards for its messages of hope, even in the face of adversity, loss and tragedy.

Wednesday October 9 (8:30 - 9:30 p.m.) in Stratton 209: Somewhere in Tapachula. This documentary shows us how surfing can give hope to the poor children of Tapachula, Mexico.

Wednesday October 16 (1:30 - 3:00 p.m.) in Cleveland 208: The Bronze Screen. This documentary centers on the presence of the Latin American culture and actors in American movies.

Wednesday October 16 (8:00 - 10:00 p.m.) in Stratton 209: Under the Same Moon. This tender story shows us that love can cross all borders, and that the bond between a mother and her child is stronger than anything.

The film showings have been complemented by Wells College recently hosting Brazilian humanitarian organizer Judite Stronzake on Wednesday, October 2. Her presentation centered on Brazil’s landless worker movement, aimed primarily at preserving local communities and their ability to sustain themselves. Her presentation was made possible with the collaboration of different divisions and departments on campus, but spearheaded by Associate Professor of Sociology Daniel Renfrow. 

Another innovative offering to Wells College—in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month—is a year long opportunity for anybody in the Wells College community or surrounding areas to converse, completely in Spanish, with native speakers. The “Spanish Conversation Coffee Hour” is being lead by Wells student Saige Hernandez '16, and it’s an opportunity to engage in the target language, in a safe environment where conversing and listening in Spanish will be primary targets, but where making mistakes is acceptable. For the moment, this opportunity is being offered every Wednesday from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. in the Wells Dining Hall's Express Café.

Last, but certainly not least, the Wells College Spanish Club is offering a special evening for Wells College students on Sunday, October 20. The evening involves their annual Tapas Night with all sorts of Hispanic-themed delicacies to taste. The tapas night is a tradition that continues thanks to the efforts of Wells students Rebecca Rose '14 and Pamela Badian-Pessot '14, co-chairs of the Spanish club.

Current celebrations surrounding Hispanic Heritage Month echo ones form last year, when Wells College hosted Mr. Jack Laun (of the Colombian Network) who hosted a Q & A after the screening of the documentary Impunity; Wells also showed the film Which Way Home, and offered its students the opportunity to chat via Skype with Dr. Stephany Slaughter (Alma College) who was one of the field producer’s of the film.

All films, events and displays are free and open to the public.

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