Last December the members of the Latin American Culture Club and El Centro Latino wrote a letter to the staff and faculty of Bellevue College. In this letter they addressed their concerns about the lack of involvement and support of the community in the organization and planning of Hispanic Heritage Month.
That year, had it not been for the collaborative work of the El Centro director, advisers, and members of LACC, there would not have been any recognition for Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Last year, it was really sad because it is a big group on campus and it is sad that we don’t get represented. I feel that everyone deserves to have that recognition for their month,” said El Centro Latino director Victoria Sifuentes.
The Latino population is not only a big group: it is the third largest population on campus.
Hispanic Heritage Month “is the time in which we celebrate our heritage as Latinos and the accomplishments we have had in this country … This is why it is such an important celebration for us because we can celebrate who we are and where we come from,” said Gabriela Gonzales, member of LACC and former director of El Centro Latino.
However, the frustration was not only for those of Hispanic descent. “I feel that it’s important that every culture is represented given that it’s a very diverse campus,” Sinfuentes pointed out.
Hispanic Heritage Month is held September 15 to October 15.
In the process of making this event possible Sinfuentes contacted different staff from different departments including Student Programs, focusing on the people who were interested in helping create events and had insight into the Latino heritage. They worked together to brainstorm and organize every detail over the summer.
Unlike previous years, “this year what we did was target different people and contacted teachers that have things in common with our events. We’ve also been talking to students and we’ve made sure that the events will be more out there, so that they are more visible,” said Sinfuentes.
Thanks to the letter that was addressed to the Bellevue College community last year, Sinfuentes said that they are getting more support from faculty and staff. She believes that if anyone ever had a doubt that voicing an opinion never changed a thing, they’d be proven wrong by the success El Centro Latino and the LACC have experienced.
“It’s very helpful and I’m glad the problem is getting recognized because we do need more help in other programs,” said Sinfuentes.
The events of Hispanic Heritage Month range from social to educational. There will be samba and salsa dance classes as well as guest speakers and a documentary.
“I really hope that the campus community, including faculty and staff, engage in the conversations El Centro Latino has prepared for Hispanic Heritage Month and learn about what it means to be Latino in the United States and in Latin America,” said Gonzales. “I hope we open the campus for a more diverse and welcoming environment where we educate students about our differences and similarities.”