Hispanic Heritage Month
UTEP hosts festive activities throughout September
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates its 44th anniversary this year and UTEP has a wide variety of activities around campus that students can participate in to learn about Hispanic history.
Dennis Bixler-Marquez, director of the UTEP Chicano Studies Program, encourages the community and students to get involved with the many activities UTEP offers during this celebratory month.
“It (September) enables students and community members to maintain cultural traditions,” Bixler-Marquez said. “Particularly those associated with Mexican culture such as the Mexican Independence and the discovery of America.”
With events like the 40th commemoration of La Raza Unida Party, originally formed in 1972 at the El Paso County Coliseum, the university’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month this year will enlarge its program for a more complete experience.
“We have expanded the celebration to over two months of activities that cover a wide range of topics, academic disciplines and cultural activities,” Bixler-Marquez said.
With this expansion, Bixler-Marquez said students and the community will also be able to engage in discussions about current issues that the Hispanic population currently encounters and how these challenges might pave the way for the future.
The approval of Hispanic Heritage Month and its celebration dates back to the 1960s under President Lyndon Johnson and expanded to a 30-day celebration of Latino culture under President Ronald Reagan.
Irma Montelongo, lecturer of university studies, recognizes the importance of the month’s festivities around campus, especially with UTEP students.
“It’s an excellent way of recognizing your culture and who you are. Everything has a history to it,” Montelongo said. “It’s incredibly awesome that you’re provided with these events that help you learn how all of this came to be.”
Events for the month include the screening of the documentary “Precious Knowledge” Sept. 20 and 21 at the Get Reel Cinema and book signings, including “Social Justice in the U.S.—Mexico Border Region” by Kathleen Staudt.
“We have a whole slew of events and Chicano Studies is sponsoring most of them. It’s real important for students to get in touch with what this month means,” Montelongo said. “We have events that are running until the end of October and even into the beginning of November. We’ve just basically doubled the opportunities that the students have to become engaged or connected with this.”
The idea of knowing about the past and how traditions have endured is something that intrigues Oscar Moreno, senior creative writing major.
“It gives us the opportunity to get to know our culture a lot better. I think that’s why students should appreciate it,” Moreno said.
According to Moreno, whether cultural or educational lectures, there are a lot of options to choose during the commemoration and that everyone has something to offer.
“As a fan of culture and film I would choose to go to the documentary. But I think all events are great ideas because of the education and diversity they give,” Moreno said. “For example the ‘Grito de la Independencia’ sounds like a great idea that is something that I would go to; it presents a very good opportunity for students to have a good time.”
The celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off with the 40th commemoration of La Raza Unida Party Aug. 30 at the Tomas Rivera Center and included over 300 attendees from different parts of the U.S., including a strong presence by UTEP faculty, staff and students.
“It’s like any other celebration; it’s not limited to Hispanics that’s another plus,” Montelongo said. “People that come from other cultures have an opportunity to learn about different culture as we do to learn about other cultures.”
Oscar Garza may be reached at email@example.com.