By MICHELLE MOODY
The annual Latino Awareness Month at the University of Mary Washington kicked off last week with a series of events celebrating Afro-Caribbean culture.
“This year we have chosen the theme of Afro-Caribbean, a type of Hispanic culture from the Caribbean characterized by different types of food and dance students may not have been exposed to,” Latin Student Association President and Spanish major Megan Traylor said.
Every year the James Farmer Multicultural Center and LSA celebrate the many Latino cultures during a month of activities and events.
“Latino Awareness Month at UMW is about coming together as a diverse community to learn about and share the history and culture of American citizens of Hispanic heritage,” Traylor said.
Latino culture is becoming more prevalent in the United States today than ever before. Spanish is one of the largest growing languages within the United States, with a multitude of Hispanic communities throughout the states.
“There are an increasing amount of Hispanics in the U.S., and it is important to know about them,” assistant director of JFMC Adriana Polo said. “Hispanics and Latinos cultures are very broad and not homogenous.”
The awareness festivities kicked off Sept. 15 on Ball Circle with food and entertainment and will continue throughout the month with various events, including lectures and films.
Students can learn about Afro-Caribbean culture through specific dinner events hosted at Seacobeck Hall throughout the month. Fun workout opportunities, including Zumba events and the LSA Soccer Tournament, are also part of the festivities. In addition, different seminars and workshops to learn about the culture will be offered throughout the month.
“It is important because we want to express our culture to other students so they can be able to have some knowledge about the Latino culture. We are able to do that, especially during this month,” business and economics double major Julissa Pena said.
The Keynote Performer will be Shayla Rivera, a former NASA aerospace engineer. Rivera now works as is a television host, writer, producer and comedian. She will speak at the Underground on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.
“Students are encouraged to join us during the month’s events to not only learn about the specifics of the month’s theme, but to have fun through dancing, eating and educational events that our faculty and the James Farmer Multicultural office have put together,” Traylor said.
This year’s Latino Identities Month events conclude on October 15.