By Alyssa Diaz
Barry University hosted events in conjunction with National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to honor the importance and contributions of Hispanic Americans in culture, language, and accomplishments.
Hispanic countries, including Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Guatemala which all declared their independence in 1821, are commemorated on Sept. 15 as the day they began their independent histories.
According to the Pew Research Center, the celebration began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 by former President Lyndon Johnson and was extended to a month in 1988 by former President Ronald Reagan. This month highlights communities and emphasizes the voices of Hispanic individuals.
The long-standing Hispanic population in Miami has grown over time.
As of 2022, Miami-Dade County had a population of about 71 percent Hispanics or Latinos, according to Miami Matters. A large part of this group is Cubans who migrated to South Florida in the ‘90s as the brutality of former President Fidel Castro’s dictatorship grew worse.
Mexicans, Hondurans, Dominicans, Colombians, Venezuelans, and more continue migrating for their American dream. On our Barry campus, this representation is on display every day.
Conscious Carnival was held at Weber Grand Hall on Sept. 21 by the De Porres Center. Along with the Leadership and Inclusion and Mission Engagement vendors as a part of Peace Week, Hispanic booths were added.
Senior criminology major Jessica Yeboah was assisting at one of these booths. Around the table, there were papers with various photographs of objects for students to label in Spanish. Students wrote down different words from different dialects and slangs of Hispanic countries.
“This is to showcase many different ways people speak Spanish, even though they are all part of the Hispanic community,” says Yeboah. “It’s important to celebrate all cultures, but it’s great we have months dedicated to different cultures.”
Sabrina Gomez, a freshman majoring in biology, attended this event with friends. They enjoyed the delicious tastes of the food and participating in the activities.
“This allows us to embrace our culture and showing what it’s like to be Hispanic,” Gomez said. “I think students can appreciate it by contributing and sharing with others.”
At Library Plaza on Saturday, Sept. 24, Food and Groove: Latinx Remix took over where everyone enjoyed Spanish music, food trucks, and student vendors.
“Any type of engagement where we can share our culture in fellowship is what’s important. Hispanic people are all about making people feel welcome, so I think these types of events encourage Barry to do that,” said Gisami Pilarte, associate director of student life and recreation.
“You’re always engaging with people from all walks of life, so it’s important for students to take advantage that they are in a place as diverse as Barry,” Pilarte said. “We try to make sure our students have the platform to grow their businesses and expand their networks in a safe space.”
Daniel Belk, sophomore majoring in business management had his own booth at this event showcasing his clothing brand, Livin Unexpected, he created at 16.
“We must take time to focus on different heritages and races and understand their background. I created this brand to let people know it’s okay to be different,” said Belk.
These events not only motivate participation in learning about these community’s cultures but also in inspiring students to value diversity.
“I’m Puerto Rican, and with all that’s going on there now, people are not really caring. People think Hispanic Heritage is just Mexican, so it’s important to show why we matter and that we are not all the same,” said Delilah Zapata-Vasquez, a sophomore majoring in sports management who attended the Hispanic Food and Groove event to support her friends.
Several events are staged in October that everybody can attend on campus. An event that started Oct. 11 and spans until Oct. 14, titled "Hablemos de nuestro mundo hispano!" will be held in Lehman 101 and 102 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. where Spanish heritage presenters will engage in dialogue with guests on current issues. A field trip to Calle 8: Viernes Culturales takes place Oct. 14, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.