September 12, 2019

SIU celebrates 2019 Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month Sept. 14-Oct.14

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Guest speakers, community service projects, discussions, an immigration simulation, movies, festivals and much more are planned as Southern Illinois University Carbondale celebrates Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month Sept. 14 to Oct. 14.

All events are open to the public and virtually all are free.

Official kick-off event is Monday

Roberto BarriosRoberto Barrios, SIU anthropology professor, will be the guest speaker for the official kick-off event and reception at 5 p.m. Monday at Morris Library. He’ll present “We helped build this dream: Two centuries of Hispanic contributions to American society” in the John C. Guyon Auditorium followed by a reception and refreshments in the rotunda. Everyone is welcome.

Barrios and Cindy Buys, interim dean and professor at the SIU School of Law, along with other panelists, will also participate in a panel discussion focusing on “Migration in the Americas” on Sept. 24. 

A reception at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium opens the event, followed by the panel at 5 p.m. They will discuss the conditions in the “Northern Triangle,” comprised of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, which are causing people to flee their homelands and seek asylum in the U.S. They will also talk of the reception these immigrants are receiving in America.

Focus on service

“This has been a very daunting year for the Latinx in the United States and I think by integrating our Latinx students with the community and helping people see how talented these students are and how committed they are to SIU and the community, it creates a sense of belonging for them while they live in Carbondale and helps create a mutual feeling of comfort for everyone. We are Salukis!” said Cristina Castillo, coordinator of the Hispanic/Latino Resource Center and of the First Scholars Program.

Thus, it seems only fitting that SIU bring the national theme. “A History of Serving Our Nation: Celebrating Hispanic and Latino American Culture, Heritage and Contributions” to the local level, Castillo said. SIU’s Latinx students, faculty, staff and community will be participating in three community service projects during the month, as well as others throughout the school year, and they welcome anyone who will to volunteer to help.

The first project involves helping out with the Migrant Head Start program in Cobden, Illinois, Saturday morning. They’ll also assist Carbondale Green Earth the morning of Sept. 28 and lend a hand at the Doña Camila Mexican Store at 100 W. Jackson St. in Carbondale the morning of Oct. 5. These projects fit one of the core standards of the office, “civic and global engagement,” and also align with SIU’s mission statement, which states the university conveys “access and opportunity and inclusive excellence,” Castillo said.

To get details about these projects and how to get involved, email Castillo at

Awareness and involvement

In addition to illustrating the positive impact the Hispanic/Latino people have on the world around them and enhancing communication between the various populations, Castillo hopes to increase awareness of the difficulties the Latinx people encounter, both today and historically.

Latinx and LGBT exhibits

A special exhibit is planned 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 8 in Rooms 150-160 at the Student Services Building.

The “Wall of Immigration: A History of Anti-Latino Sentiment” and the “LGBT: A History of Resistance” historical timelines will illustrate the difficult journeys of many Hispanic/Latino and LGBTQ people.

Similar to SIU’s annual Tunnel of Oppression, it will give participants first-hand exposure to the prejudice, preconceptions, biases, harassment and persecution these populations endure.

Immigration Simulation Experience

As the immigration debate rages on in the public and media, people frequently comment that all would be well if immigrants would just become legal residents. But, how many people know what’s really involved?

That’s what the Immigration Simulation Experience is all about, Castillo said. Set for 5-7 p.m. Sept. 26 in Rooms 150-170 at the Student Services Building, it’s a chance to see first-hand what is involved in the immigration process.

Participants will take on true-life roles as refugees, asylum seekers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) individuals and others caught up in the immigration fray. They’ll discover the intricacies of the steps involved and the difficulties in finding assistance, maneuvering the legal system and hitting timelines, Castillo said. 

Vega presenting keynote address

Sujey VegaSujey Vega, associate professor of Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University, will present two keynote addresses on Oct. 3. “Bridges Not Borders: The Importance of Belonging and Acceptance for Latinos in the Midwest,” is set for 11:30-1:30 pm. in the Student Center’s Ballroom A.

Everyone is welcome but seating is limited, and lunch is provided, so email Castillo for tickets.

That evening, Vega will present “Healing Ourselves and Our Communities: Assessing the needs of Latino communities in the Heartland” at 6 p.m. on Morris Library, Rooms 752-754. The evening event is a chat with the public invited to participate.

The author of “Latino Heartland: Of Borders and Belonging in the Midwest,” Vega earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has extensively researched social networks, race/ethnicities, gendered experiences and ethno-religious practices and is currently studying the role of the Latter Day Saints church in the lives of Latino Mormons and the growth of the Latin population in the Phoenix area.

Festivals featuring music and fun times

Another highlight of the month is the Latino Festival on Sept. 30. Featuring food, crafts, music and more, it is a gala celebration of the Hispanic Latinx culture. The festival is courtesy of various student organizations and is happening 3-5:30 p.m. at the Student Services Building pavilion.

There will also be a guitar festival featuring Isaac Lausell at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 20 at Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall 104. Call the School of Music at 618-536-8742 for ticket information. Workshops, movies and more

Learn how to make tasty authentic salsas at a workshop on Oct. 14. Wrapping up Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month, the workshop is set for 5-7 p.m. in Quigley Hall, Room 212.

Throughout the month, there will also be several special film showings, often followed by question and answer sessions. Roundtable discussions, a leadership luncheon and other events are on tap as well.

Find the complete schedule of events at

For additional information, call 618/453-3740 or email

Sponsors of Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month include: the Hispanic/Latino Resource Center, the Office of Vice Chancellor for Diversity, the LGBTQ Resource Center, Multicultural Greek Council, Latin American Student Association and SIU’s Hispanic registered student organizations, Gamma Phi Omega Sorority, the School of Music, the College of Mass Communications and Media Arts, SIU Law School and the Southern Illinois Immigrant Rights Project