By Natalie Lasky
Youngstown State University is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, and it kicked off the month with an Opening Ceremony at the Youngstown Municipal Courthouse on Sept. 14.
Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15 and it will end Oct. 15. The month is about recognizing Hispanic culture, history, fashion, food, music and dancing.
Sponsored by the YSU Hispanic Heritage Planning Committee, the Opening Ceremony started by representing 22 Hispanic countries and had YSU alumna Mirta Pacheco Arrowsmith as the keynote speaker.
Ana Torres, chair of the YSU Hispanic Heritage Planning Committee, said Hispanic Heritage Month is a way to celebrate immigrants who have settled in the Mahoning Valley.
“We celebrate the various contributions and the heritage of Latino cultures in this country of the immigrants and the families that have been here for centuries and have made the [U.S.] their home,” Torres said.
YSU alumnus and Ohio State Rep. Al Cutrona said his favorite part of Hispanic heritage is enjoying the culture’s food. Cutrona stated during the ceremony that the community should be focused on progressing by understanding history.
“I’ve always believed that you cannot progress as people if you don’t remember your past,” Cutrona said.
Francisco Rivera-Ocasio, a senior political science major, said Hispanic heritage means a lot to him.
“This is extremely important to me as a member of the Hispanic community and a descendant of Puerto Rican immigrants — to celebrate the culture of Puerto Rico and all these other Latin American countries,” Rivera-Ocasio said.
Victor Arcieno, a faculty member of The Department of English and World Languages, said it’s essential to maintain and share cultural traditions when immigrants move to the U.S.
“To keep this tradition because when people come in right here, we don’t want them to lose their cultural background but also we want to share [our traditions] here in the U.S.,” Arcieno said.
Arcieno said people should respect others for their identity and cultural upbringing.
“You can accept people from different nationalities because as human beings, we [come] in different sizes, colors and we [are] unique in our own way,” Arcieno said.
Hispanic Heritage Month activities are split up with some events taking place in the downtown area, and some at YSU’s campus.
YSU events included:
— Noche de Cine (Movie Night) at Maag Library
— International Coffee Hour
— #NotWhiteCollective art display at the McDonough Museum
Downtown Youngstown events included:
— 20th Century Hispanic Art exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art
— Make Cuban Maracas
— The 13th Annual Non-Violence Parade and Rally
— ¡HOLA! Fest Youngstown and Hispanic Heritage Celebration
— Understanding the Global Diversity of Hispanic and Latin Americans speaker Michael Benitez, Ph. D.
— OCCHA Annual Gala Fundraiser and Veterans Appreciation Dinner.
For more information on Hispanic Heritage Month, contact Ana Torres at [email protected] or 330-941-1717.