Amigos Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations encourage community

Emersons+Office+of+International+Student+Affairs.

Photo: Hong

Emerson’s Office of International Student Affairs.

By Olivia LeDuc, Staff Writer

Amigos, a student-led cultural organization that aims to foster Latin culture on campus, say that commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month on campus presents an opportunity for students to celebrate and become engaged with Emerson’s Latinx communities. The celebration of the histories, cultures, and identities of Hispanic Americans annually runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

“Hispanic versus Latinx is an important conversation that we know doesn’t have a definitive answer,” Elisanett Martinez, Assistant Director of Intercultural Student Affairs for LGBTQIA+ Services, said. “We want to create a space for people to feel comfortable having these difficult discussions.”

Martinez, who also serves as the program coordinator of Intercultural Student Affairs, discussed at length that Hispanic Heritage Month comes down to connecting all students. 

“Our goal is to make these events enjoyable for allies and the entire community,” she said.

Amigos is spearheading a wide variety of events to observe the month open to all students. Events administered by Amigos are meant to convey the importance that “all students are welcome and can learn about Hispanic culture,” said Sebastian Ospina, a senior visual media arts major and the secretary of Amigos.

To mark the occasion, Sophia Rodriguez, a senior journalism major and event planner for Amigos, encouraged students to use the month to learn about the identities and voices of Emerson’s Hispanic community.

“These events will bring unity in a place that you wouldn’t know to be as diverse as it is,” Rodriguez said. “People apart of Amigos are from everywhere around the world and it’s a nice community to build upon.” 

This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations kicked off on Sept. 21 with Noche de Reggaeton, hosted by Amigos in collaboration with Emerson’s Black Organization with Natural Interest (EBONI). 

Other events hosted by Amigos during the month will include a movie night on Sept. 28, and a salsa night with an instructor in the Bill Bordy Theater on Oct. 7. Rodriquez said the organization is also planning trips to the Museum of Science and Six Flags. 

Beyond bringing the Emerson community together to honor and celebrate heritage, the month also highlights the college’s Hispanic representation at a predominantly white institution. Ospina, a Colombian student, said he initially felt a disconnect from his Hispanic heritage. 

“When I came to Emerson, I felt left out because the liveliness of Hispanic culture and community wasn’t there,” he said. 

Ospina has since found support with other students in Amigos, but recognizes the divide that still stands and impacts other Hispanic students. 

“Hispanic students feel left out in a dominant white campus. Most people stay within their own group and don’t see how others live their lives,” he said. 

Despite the cultural differences that Ospina says can separate ethnic communities, he believes Emerson’s efforts in representing Hispanic students are there.

“Emerson prioritizes giving a voice to clubs that don’t normally have a voice,” he said.

Ospina added that the college’s efforts in representation could be improved through marketing more cultural events themselves, rather than entirely relying on student organizations to be hosts. 

Rodriguez said she hopes to see Emerson provide more representation and funding to organizations like Amigos.

Not only are the events celebratory for students to share their cultures, but they lead to productive conversations addressing Hispanic complexities, said Martinez.

Martinez said she has been having consistent discussions with students about identifications with the terms Hispanic or Latinx.

“As we continue to build programming for students … we are connecting them with terms that grow the community as it converses with itself,” she said.

With the growing visibility of the “shift in language,” Martinez believes Hispanic Heritage Month is an appropriate time to focus on facilitating such conversations.