September 09, 2011

SIUC set to celebrate Latino Heritage Month

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Voces Sin Fonteras.  Translated “voices without borders,” it is the theme of the 2011 Latino Heritage Month celebration at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Latino Heritage Month celebrates and acknowledges the cultures, experiences and history of the diverse groups that fall under the Latino banner, and there are numerous educational, enlightening and entertaining events set for Sept. 10 through Oct. 23. 

“Latino Heritage Month is an excellent way to expand contact with and understanding of one of the many diverse cultures that make up the community of cultures we have at SIU Carbondale.  It is a marvelous way to learn, to grow and to develop as a member of global society,” said Carl Ervin, coordinator of Multicultural Programs and Services.

The various activities throughout the month offer the opportunity for students of all ethnic heritages to meet, socialize and learn about one another and the Latino cultures.  There are movies, panel discussions, guest speakers, a picnic, socials, free bowling and billiards, craft and cooking activities, salsa dancing and much more on tap.

Isabel Molina, a media and cultural studies scholar with extensive research and publications involving the contemporary politics of ethnicity, race and gender in the media will also speak Sept. 19 on campus at 7 p.m. at Morris Library.  A 1992 alumna of Penn State University, she is the department chair and associate professor in Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and is also a faculty member in media and cinema studies as well as gender and women’s studies.  Her book, “Dangerous Curves:  Latina Bodies in the Media” explores the topic of Latinas in the media and she’ll speak about how media representations of Latinas and Latinos influences public attitude.

“Anyone interested in immersing themselves in the rich culture and traditions of Latino people should join the fun and enlightening events that are Latino Heritage Month,” said Talea Collins, a junior psychology major from Carbondale.

The schedule of events for Latino Heritage Month 2011 at SIUC, with all events free and open to the public unless otherwise specified, includes:

Sept. 10

            •  15th annual Welcome Picnic, 1 p.m., campus boat dock.  Join members of Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity and new and returning Latino students for this time of camaraderie.  Free food and drinks will be provided, and participants can enjoy breaking a piñata as well.

Sept. 15

            •  Latino Heritage Month Kick-off and Social, 7-9 p.m., Grinnell Hall, lower level.  This is a chance to learn about the Latino student organizations and community and campus resources and to get the scoop on upcoming events.

Sept. 16

            •  Festival Latino, noon-3 p.m., Free Forum area (the grassy area south of Anthony Hall). The Hispanic Student Council event features free food from a local Mexican restaurant, a DJ, music from local band “Hot Sauce” and a chance to catch Mercedes Gomez and her hula-hoop in action.

Sept. 18

            •  Community Service with Hispanic Student Council (HSC), noon-3 p.m., meeting at the HSC Adopt-A-Sport located on Giant City Road between the intersections with Grand Ave. and Pleasant Hill Road. 

Sept. 19

            •  “What the Media Teach About Latinos in the U.S.,” 7 p.m., Morris Library, John A. Guyon Auditorium.  The keynote speaker is Isabel Molina, chair and associate professor in Latina/Latino studies, media and cinema studies and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  She will discuss the way American media depict ethnicity, race and gender and how media on the one hand encourages differences and yet on the other, treats differences as a threat to culture and society.  With a look at news, television and cinema representations of Latinas/Latinos, she’ll explore what the media is teaching.

Sept. 20

            •  Sweets and Treats:  HSC Bake Sale, 1-4 p.m., Faner Hall, south end.  This event is a fundraiser to support Hispanic Student Council programming for the year.

            •  Victor Correa Memorial CPR Workshop, 6-7 p.m., Student Center, Mackinaw Room.  Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity sponsors this workshop annually to bring something good out of tragedy by giving basic life-saving CPR instruction. 

            •  Yoga en Espanol, 7 p.m., Student Center, Mississippi Room.  Mercedes Gomez will lead this program giving a chance to discover the centuries old mental and physical program of Yoga, this time with a Latin flair.

Sept. 21

            •  Free Salsa dance lessons, 7-10 p.m., Student Center Ballroom D.  Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity offers free salsa lessons for beginners or anyone wanting a refresher in the dance craze.

Sept. 22

            •  College as an Option, 4-7 p.m., Free Forum area.  Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity is hosting this evening of entertainment and information showing students from the migrant community in the Cobden area that higher education can be part of their future.

            •  Free Bowling and Billiards, 9-11 p.m., Student Center, Bowling and Billiards.  All SIUC students with valid student ID can enjoy free bowling and billiards games.

Sept. 23

            •  Noche de Gala, 8-11 p.m., Student Center Ballrooms.  Join in a free evening of salsa dancing and live music by La Dynastia Freddy Kenton courtesy of Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity and Student Center Special Programs and Center Events.  Dress is semi-formal.

Sept. 26

            •  Civility and Difference, two events, 7 p.m. and 7:40 p.m. in the Student Center, Missouri Room.  Civility and Protest includes showing of film “Shabuya” by SIUC alumnus Mario Contreras. The film features civil protests by Latinos and their allies from Illinois to Washington, D.C. in support of the Dream Act and migrant workers.  Following is Punto de Vista/ Point of View, with a panel of Latin American immigrants sharing their personal stories and answer questions in this time of exploring identity and place in society.

Sept. 27

            •  BTO Edutainment:  What does it mean to be Latino/Hispanic?, 7 p.m., Grinnell Hall, lower level.  This event offers the opportunity to learn about being Latino/Hispanic in the USA.

Sept. 28

            •  Tamale Fest, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Old Main Restaurant at Student Center.  Enjoy a buffet for $6.50 featuring all sorts of Latin fare.   Drinks are extra. For reservations, call 618/453-1130.

Sept. 29

            •  Inaugural Philanthropy Dinner, 5 p.m., 502 S. University Ave., Phi Kappa Tau House.  Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority and Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity are joining to sponsor a benefit fish fry raising awareness and funding for a pair of worthy causes:  the fight against breast cancer and the Hole in the Wall Camps.  The cost is $5.

Oct. 4

            •  Tamale Workshop, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Student Center Craft Shop.  Learn to make authentic tamales and enjoy tasting your labors.  The cost is $12.

Oct. 5

            •  Make a Pinata, 6-8 p.m., Student Center Craft Shop.  Design, build and decorate your very own piñata, complete with prizes you add inside.  Class requires minimum of three and maximum of 12 participates and the cost is $15 per piñata. 

Oct. 6

            •  Building Inclusive Excellence, 7 p.m., Student Center, Kaskaskia Room.    Discuss how individuals and the institution can remove the numerous types of obstacles that limit students and prevent them from reaching their full potential.

            •  Free Bowling and Billiards with SLG, 9-11 p.m., Student Center Bowling and Billiards.  Enjoy an evening with the women of Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority with free bowling, billiards and fun.

Oct. 7

            •  Rice and Spice, 6 p.m., Gaia House Interfaith Center, 913 S. Illinois Ave., Carbondale.  The weekly international slow food dinner will feature Columbian cuisine this week.

Oct. 12

            •  Make a Pinata, 6-8 p.m., Student Center Craft Shop.  Design, build and decorate your very own piñata, complete with prizes you add inside.  Class requires minimum of three and maximum of 12 participates and the cost is $15 per piñata. 

Oct. 13

            •  SIUC Latino Alumni Panel, 7 p.m., Student Center, Kaskaskia Room.  A panel of successful young Latino alumni of SIUC share their stories, telling of the paths they followed to professional and personal success during their time at the University and since.

Oct. 15

            •  Homecoming Latino Celebration and Tailgate, 11:30 a.m., SIUC Tailgate Area.  Join alumni, current students and friends from the SIUC Latino community for homecoming celebration.

Oct. 20

            •  Empanada Workshop, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Student Center Craft Shop.  Learn to make the Latin treat and sample your cooking.  The cost is $12.

Oct. 22

            •  11th annual Unity Dinner, 7-9 p.m., Newman Center, 715 S. Washington St., Carbondale.  Delta Phi Mu Sorority sponsors this celebration of cultural diversity and unity featuring guest speakers, entertainment and free food representing various cultures. 

Oct. 23

            •  Friends and Neighbors, 1:30 p.m., St. Francis Xavier Church, 303 Poplar St., Carbondale.  This event brings together people from the SIUC Hispanic/Latino community with those from the surrounding region for a time of “chat and chew” hosted by Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority.

“I have always believed that it is important to not lose touch with one’s roots.  It’s important for Latinos to know where they came from and understand their background.  This is why I find it imperative not only that Latinos understand themselves but the community that surrounds us.  I like to share my culture with those around me, which is why I ran for Hispanic Student Council president- to be able to share and inform those around me of the true beauty behind the Latino culture we love to embrace,” said Jeanette Garcia, a junior from Anna majoring in political science with pre-law specialization.

The Hispanic Heritage Month celebration originated in September 1968 when Congress authorized then-President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, observed during the week that included Sept. 15-16.  Congress expanded it to a month long celebration in 1988 and it is a celebration of the 50.5 million (as of April 1, 2010 according to the U.S. Census Bureau) strong Hispanic population in the United States.  

Sponsors of Latino Heritage Month 2011 include:  Multicultural Programs and Services, Hispanic Student Council, Hispanic Resource Center, Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity, Delta Phi Mu Sorority, A.L.M.A.:  The Interest Group of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Black Togetherness Organization, Education and Outreach, Student Center Craft Shop, Student Center Special Programs and Center Events, Residence Hall Association, Fanatic Vibez Dance Group and Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity.

“Distinct fields from genetics to capitalism have long exalted the benefits and necessity of diversity.  By engaging in different cultures and traditions we allow ourselves to see with greater range and think with more discerning minds.  Perhaps, most importantly, by opening ourselves to other ways of being, we open the space for connection and unity,” said Phillips Garcia, a graduate master’s student in social work from Chicago.

Latino Heritage Month at SIUC is an initiative from Multicultural Programs and Services (MPS), a unit of Student Life and Intercultural Relations.  MPS hosts a number of events and activities to promote cultural competency at the University, including GLBT History Month, Native American Heritage Month, Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance, Women’s History Month and Asian American Heritage Month.

For more information about Latino Heritage Month, contact MPS on the third floor of the Student Center or by calling 618/453-5714. Or, find out more online at