September 04, 2009

SIUC to celebrate Latino Heritage Month

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will celebrate Latino Heritage Month in coming weeks with guest speakers, dancing, workshops, films, food and entertainment.

“Latino Heritage Month honors and brings greater awareness of one of the many diverse cultures that comprises the community of cultures that is SIUC,” said Carl Ervin, coordinator of Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services. “It is a wonderful opportunity to learn about cultures, enhance cultural competencies, reduce ethnocentrism and add to both the knowledge gained and fun had during the fall semester.”

“Embracing the Fierce Urgency of Now” is the theme for the 2009 Latino Heritage Month. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

Among the highlights is a visit by Oscar A. Herrera Sept. 16. A native of Mexico City, he speaks five languages, has studied cultures extensively and owns Herrera Computer Solutions, a business he started at the age of 17. A graduate of Governor’s State University with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and computer science, he was the recipient of several scholarships and served there as president of the Association of Latin American Students when the organization’s membership grew more than 300 percent.

Herrera, a network administrator and coach of the Business Professional of America Network Design Team at Bloom Trail High School, is a popular motivational speaker. He claims that if he can be successful, anyone can if they work hard. His address is one of many inspiring events during Latino Heritage month.

“It is a month dedicated to awareness, appreciation and opportunity to better experience the past and present of Latino heritage,” said Jazmin Rios, a social work major from Cicero serving as community service chairperson for Sigma Lambda Gamma. “One can read about cultures and learn vicariously through others, but it is first-hand experiences that give full insight into cultures other than your own.”

Also featured during the month will be a discussion of democracy, development and everyday violence in Latin America in this century led by Joseph Young, assistant professor of political science at SIUC and a National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) Fellow. He has researched political violence including insurgency, civil war, interstate war and terrorism, particularly in Latin America. He teaches about international relations and political violence and a variety of journals have published his writings.

A picnic kicks off the celebration of Latino Heritage Month Sept. 12 and the festivities wrap up with a unity dinner Oct. 24.

“I am new to SIUC and I must say, it is an exciting and unique idea to spread the Latino culture to all of the SIUC and Carbondale community. This month promises to provide insight and enlightening discussions about the Latino heritage,” said Devin Moran, a higher education and student affairs graduate student from Lexington, Ky.

The Latino Heritage Month schedule includes:

Sept. 12

• 13th annual Welcome Picnic, noon-4 p.m. in the Free Forum Area north of McAndrew Stadium. Welcoming new and returning students to SIUC, there will be free food, fun and entertainment courtesy of Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity and Sigma Lambda Gamma interest group. Participants can join in breaking a piñata too.

Sept. 15

• Resume workshop, 5-7 p.m., Illinois Room at the Student Center. Sooner or later you’ll need to know how to create a quality resume and this is the chance to learn.

Sept. 16

• Oscar Herrera presents Si se puede (Yes we can), 7-9 p.m., Student Center Ballroom B. Herrera, a successful entrepreneur and acclaimed motivational speaker, will present the Latino Heritage Month keynote presentation. A former recipient of the prestigious Dr. Juan Andrade Jr. Scholarship for Young Hispanic Leaders, Herrera’s message is, “Anything in life can be achieved through hard work and dedication. Struggles and obstacles must be overcome in order to succeed. My life is a very clear example of someone that has succeeded despite many obstacles. If I have done it, anyone can do it.”

Sept. 17

• Latino Study Jam, 8 p.m., lower level of Grinnell Hall. There are free refreshments for this group time of study.

Sept. 18

• Festival Latino, noon-3:30 p.m., Free Forum Area north of McAndrew Stadium. Celebrate the Latino culture with free food and live entertainment.

Sept. 20

• Hispanic Student Council Adopt-A-Spot, 2 p.m., Student Center Circle Drive. The Hispanic Student Council and the men of Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity are leading this day of community service.

Sept. 22

• Tamale Fest, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Old Main Restaurant in the Student Center. Enjoy assorted tamales and other tastes of Latin America for $7.29. For more information, call 618/453-1130.

Sept. 23

• Free Salsa dance lessons, 7-10 p.m., Ballroom D at the Student Center. Beginners can learn to salsa and experienced dancers can enjoy a refresher course thanks to Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity.

Sept. 24

• Victor Correa Memorial CPR Workshop, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Mississippi Room, Student Center. Lack of CPR assistance played a significant part in the death of Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity member Victor Correa and the group is sponsoring this CPR workshop to draw attention to the importance of CPR and provide basic instruction.

• Free bowling and billiards, 9-11 p.m., Student Center’s Bowling & Billiards. Enjoy free bowling, billiards and entertainment with a Latin touch.

Sept. 25

• Noche de Gala, 8 p.m., Student Center Ballroom D. This popular free event features salsa dancing and live music. Last year more than 600 attended and organizers expect an even bigger crowd in 2009. The doors open at 7 p.m. and semi-formal attire is in order.

Sept. 28

• Make Your Own Piñata, 6-8 p.m., Student Center Craft Shop. From start to finish, you can create and decorate your very own piñata with prizes of your choosing inside. Individuals, groups and families can make one or more of the traditional piñatas together. The cost is $15 per piñata for materials and instruction. Call 618/453-3636 for details.

Sept. 29

• Being Hispanic in America, with Julian Rios, 7 p.m. Grinnell Hall, lower level. Rios will present a 40-minute expose examining the lies, statistics, myths, realities, truths, half-truths, facts and fictions of what it means to be Hispanic in the U.S.

Sept. 30

• Democracy, Development and Everyday Violence: Latin America in the 21st Century with Joseph Young, 7-9 p.m., Student Center’s Ohio Room. Young, assistant professor of political science at SIUC and START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism) Fellow will talk about the Latin American democratization process and how it sometimes stalls, economic development, the nature of violence in the region and the future of U.S.- Latin American relations.

• Ice cream social and open microphone night, 8 p.m., lower level of Grinnell Hall. It’s an evening featuring the words of some of SIUC’s best poets, lyricists and commentators. There’s ice cream for all in attendance.

Oct. 1

• I Speak Spanish, but I’m Not Mexican, 6-8 p.m. in the Big Muddy Room on the lower level of the Student Center. Numerous cultures from a wide geographical area speak Spanish and this presentation explores the differing traditions, foods, customs and dialects.

Oct. 5

• “Amores Perros,” film showing 7-10 p.m. in Illinois Room at Student Center. It’s the story of three lives intersecting in the wake of a terrible car crash.

Oct. 7

• “Dying to Get In: Undocumented Immigration at the U.S. Mexican Border,” 7-9 p.m. in the Ohio Room at the Student Center. The Brett Tolley film documentary examines the border dubbed the “gauntlet of death” with an up close and personal look at the Arizona dessert border crossing where many people have died. Julian Rios, president of Omega Delta Phi fraternity, will lead a discussion after the movie airs.

Oct. 8

• “Uses and Abuses of Hybridity: Contemporary Latinidad as the Malleable Construct” with Angharad N. Valdivia from the University of Illinois, 4:30 p.m., Communications Building Room 1032. Valdivia explores gender, ethnicity, pop culture, the representation of Latinas/Latinos and the circulation of Latinidad narratives. The lecture is part of the Global Media Research Center Speaker Series.

• “Glory Box,” performance by Tim Miller, 8 p.m., Marion Kleinau Theater in the Communications Building. Miller’s show highlights the challenges of love, gay marriage and the immigration rights struggle for gay people and their partners. A repeat performance is set for the same time and place Saturday, Oct. 10.

Oct. 10

• Homecoming Latino Celebration and Tailgate, 11:30 a.m. McAndrew Stadium tailgate area. Enjoy Latin music, food and fun during the homecoming tailgate fest.

Oct. 11

• Friends & Neighbors, 1:30 p.m., following Spanish Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church, 303 Poplar St., Carbondale. It’s open to all, a time to reflect on Latino Heritage Month and “embracing the fierce urgency of now.”

Oct. 13

• Tamale class, 5-7 p.m., Student Center Craft Shop. Learn how to make a variety of delicious tamales like those served up in a number of Latin American regions. The cost is $12 and class size must be six-15. For details call the Craft Shop at 618/453-3636.

Oct. 14

• Women’s Self-Defense Class, 6-7 p.m., Ohio Room at Student Center. It’s a fun class offering valuable self-defense information.

Oct. 15

• Breast Cancer Awareness/National Latino AIDS Awareness Bake Sale, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Faner Hall breezeway. This event raises funds and promotes awareness of health issues and concerns.

Oct. 24

• Ninth annual Unity Dinner, 7 p.m., Newman Center, 715 S. Washington St., Carbondale. This formal event is a celebration of all cultures and unity among cultures at SIUC. Delta Phi Mu will provide free food representing a variety of cultures and the evening will include a featured speaker and entertainment as well. Professional attire requested.

Organizers say that through a wide assortment of happenings, Latino Heritage Month honors Latino people and their heritage and brings about greater understanding.

“To honor Latino heritage is to honor one of the many lenses of a beautiful humanity,” said Bryant Payne, a speech communication graduate student from Chicago.

“I enjoy Latino Heritage Month because it helps bring different students together in different ways to help them get a better understanding of being Latino and of each other,” added Jamie Strothmann, a sophomore art and design student from Murphysboro.

Sponsors of Latino Heritage Month include Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services, Hispanic Student Council (the largest Latino registered student organization on campus with Abraham Lopez,, as president), Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity, Sigma Lambda Gamma interest group, Delta Phi Mu sorority, Omega Delta Phi fraternity, Office of the Associate Chancellor (Diversity), Student Center Craft Shop, Student Center Special Programs and Center Events, Black Togetherness Organization and Undergraduate Student Government.

“Latino Heritage Month is important because it helps us understand and appreciate the customs and cultures of our Latino citizens as well as politicians such as newly selected Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor,” said Alex Schimmelpfenning, a junior math major from Effingham.

Latino Heritage Month is one of a number of Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services initiatives. The organization also hosts Native American Heritage Month, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Week, Women’s History Month, Asian American Heritage Month and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender History Month as well as other events promoting cultural competency at the University.

For additional information, contact Student Development Multicultural Programs and Services at 618/453-5714 or look online at

Oscar Herrera

Oscar A. Herrera Download Photo Here

Joseph Young

Joseph Young Download Photo Here