By Jesse Bade, Special to the Chronicle
Last Wednesday the Hispanic Heritage Closing Reception took place as one final celebration of the culture and diversity in the Hispanic world. The closing ceremony was a summary of the events that took place on the University's campus celebrating and embracing the Hispanic culture. The food, music and dancing that occurred was representative of the pride that each Hispanic student and faculty member has in their heritage and backgrounds.
"The past weeks have been great and there has been a lot of interest…it has been a great celebration of diversity on campus," said Annick Aska, Assistant Director in the Office of Multicultural and International Student Programs. The overwhelming pride of the Latino race clearly stood out this past month as they celebrated what it means to be Hispanic.
Rebecca Vega, a student at the University, stated that she attended multiple events during the month and that one, the Latino Media Convention, spiked her interest because it talked about the effect that Latinos can have on the media today. It sought to inform students about how they should be proud of their culture as it grows in the United States so that they may share it more fully with the world.
Professor Mario Murillo, from the School of Communication and keynote speaker at the closing reception, said something to this degree as well. Murillo commented that 50.5 million people in the United States were counted as Latino in the 2010 census, or 16 percent of the population—and this number is constantly growing.
"The US is the second largest Latino nation in the world and we have to recognize that," said Murillo.
What it means to be Hispanic and to celebrate the culture is an important question when speaking to and learning about Latinos.
"We are a minority, but it is different because we are one, we celebrate together and these events are important because they make sure we honor each other. I am proud to be Latino," said Vega.
Expressing the idea of coming together for a traditional celebration with Latino music, dancing, and food would make any person of a Hispanic background feel at home.
"When you are from a foreign country, things like this [event] make you feel like you are actually a part of the community…it gives you the ability to be proud of where you come from and embrace what it is like to be different," said Irina Fanarraga, a dancer at the closing ceremony and foreign exchange student from Peru.
There is great diversity among Hispanics yet they all come together to celebrate their common culture in a setting that is mutual worldwide. Gatherings like the Closing Reception bring people together and make strangers feel at home because they can be who they are without shame.
Brandi Burgos, student keynote speaker at the event and president of H.O.L.A., seems to sum up the feelings about Latino culture in five simple words, "Mi cultura es muy bonita." (Translated to: my culture is very beautiful.)