Latinx heritage month celebrates community

by Andrew Culver | 10/30/18 3:00am

October marked Latinx Heritage Month at Dartmouth, a month-long celebration of Latinx identity that features guest speakers, lectures, art showcases, community social events and a Dia de los Muertos celebration and which will finish off with the Latinx Heritage Month Gala on Nov. 3. The celebration “seeks to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Latinx people in the U.S. and on Dartmouth’s campus,” according to the website of the Office and Pluralism and Leadership, which sponsored the events.

“At its heart, [Latinx Heritage Month is] really about celebration, awareness and education,” said interim Office of Pluralism and Leadership director Dia Draper.

The celebratory month served as a chance for Latinx students to “think about self care and just relax after a stressful term or year,” said Emily Martinez ’21, a former Latinx community student coordinator at OPAL who helped plan this year’s heritage month.

OPAL Latinx program coordinator Edwin Aguilar said that the theme for this year, “diversity in community,” emphasizes “the unity part of community.”

Organizers “really wanted to encompass a different idea or approach and make this year different,” Martinez said.

Martinez said that this year’s Latinx Heritage Month was more successful compared to past years.

“Last year the attendance rate was not that high, so this year there has been a huge step up,” she said.

In particular, Martinez noted that the Latinx Late Night event on Oct. 5 enjoyed a fully packed room of attendees.

“Turnout has been really good,” Draper said. “For Dartmouth, any time you get students away from their books it’s good.”

She noted that in previous years, programming only garnered interest from “certain groups of Latinx, but not really everyone felt included.”

This year, Martinez and other planners “really tried to broaden [their] range and approach” to programming, she said, adding that the desire to increase the inclusivity of LHM was the guiding force behind this year’s event planning.

“When putting events together for the full month, we were really cognizant of how to make it as inclusive as we could,” Aguilar said.

One event, called Peligrosas y Poderosas, or Powerful and Dangerous, featured speaker Nadia Ruiz, an accomplished 34 year-old runner who has completed 140 marathons.

Martinez said Ruiz is one of her inspirations as “someone who has been able to do what she wants and hasn’t been stopped just because she is Latinx.” Martinez added that Ruiz has “become a voice” for members of the Latinx community.

Anirudh Udutha ’18 Med’22 said that for him, the events both this year and last year “touched on different challenges of the immigrant experience, issues of intersectionality like gender and sexuality, different economic issues, and really how everyone is able to find moments of resilience through their different experiences and find support, whether it is from family or other created families that people find over time.”

“I really think I identified with those kinds of narratives,” Udutha added, noting that the events have been inspiring for him.

Aguilar said that he looked forward to the final events of the month.

“I think every event has been impactful and powerful,” he said.