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Taste of Huntington kicks off Hispanic Heritage month

Olayinka Bamiro

Olayinka Bamiro

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The International Hispanic organization at Marshall University had its Taste of Hispanic Culture event Thursday in the Memorial Student Center. Taste of Hispanic Culture, which was the second in a series of events to begin celebrating Hispanic Heritage month, featured an opening statement from the organization’s president Gretel Toloza Alvarez, poems recited by Marshall students, a dance segment and guest speaker Laiza C. Sboron.

Taste of Hispanic Culture was open to the Marshall community and featured information regarding Hispanic heritage.

“Our aim is to bring the Hispanic community together, create an environment where Hispanic people can come and share their different traditions and just embrace our culture,” Toloza Alverez said.

Initially starting as a weeklong celebration, Hispanic Heritage month was eventually increased to an annual month-long celebration by former President Ronald Regan, from Sept. 15 until Oct. 15.

During her presentation, Sboron, program analyst for the Army Corps of Engineers, said Hispanic heritage is not only synonymous with people of Hispanic descent, but with all Americans. Sboron talked about the importance of university organizations sponsoring events such as Taste of Hispanic Culture.

“West Virginia is actually the least Hispanic state of all 50 states,” Sboron said. “So I thought it was my obligation to just try to educate everyone a little bit more, because I know many of us don’t have that much exposure, so I’m very happy to be here tonight.”

With Marshall’s student population continuing to grow, it is bringing diversity along with it, as students from all parts of the world are seeking out new experiences.

“It’s important as our student population grows,” said Monica Garcia Brooks, associate vice president for Libraries and Online Learning and the advisor for the Intercultural Hispanic Organization. “As the years have progressed, we have more and more students who identify as Hispanic or Latino. We want to make sure that there are options for them to share cultural information with their non-Hispanic friends as well as a forum for them to meet each other and make new acquaintance.”

Upcoming events for the organization include a movie night Sep. 28 when the movie “Coco” will be shown, and a painting event which an artist will come to teach attendees.

Established September 2016, the organization has already shown an exponential amount of growth and promise for the future. Toloza Alverez was instrumental in building the Intercultural Hispanic organization, and said she is excited for the future.

“I just hope this organization will continue to grow and embrace,” Toloza Alverez said. “Hispanics students are here, but they may be off the radar so we don’t know they even exist. That’s why we have this organization, to make them more comfortable with coming out and just embrace that power we have as minorities.”

Olayinka Bamiro can be contacted at [email protected]

 

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