The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off

All over Eau Claire, the United States and Latin American countries, people are celebrating their freedom and independence, but it’s been months since the Fourth of July. So what’s the occasion?

People are celebrating the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries and the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The celebration officially began on Monday and will run through Oct. 15. It is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of Latinos to the United States.

The observance traces its roots to 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson first proclaimed Hispanic Heritage Week, said student services coordinator Stephanie Zighelboim.

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“Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting date because it is the anniversary of the independence for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador,” Zighelboim said. “Mexico’s independence came on the 16th.”

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded the celebration to a month.

There are an estimated 45.5 million Latinos living in the United States and they are the fastest growing minority in the country, said Zighelboim.

“By the year 2050, the Latino population is projected to grow to 132.8 million,” she said.

That is where Zighelboim and the Student Organization of Latinos come in. Their goal is to attract Latinos to the university. The SOL mission statement is “to promote support cultural, social, and academic interaction among Latinas/os students, faculty, alumni, and local residents of Latin American origins,” according to the organization’s page on Eau Claire’s Student Organizations’ Web site.

“We have 29 freshman in our organization this year,” Zighelboim said, “and our goal is to make sure they all graduate in four years.”

Zighelboim, who grew up in Venezuela, and sophomore president of SOL, Rogelio Encizo said they are excited about Hispanic Heritage Month and the events coming up on campus. There will be several keynote movies and presentations throughout the month.

“I’ll be going to most (of the events), if not all of them,” Encizo said.

There is also a reception with Enrique Morones of Border Angels on Oct. 6. The organization Border Angels is dedicated to preventing the deaths of people attempting to enter the United States by traveling through dangerous desert and mountain regions along the border between the United States and Mexico.

Morones will discuss the issues involved when this humanitarian mission collides with U. S. law and the need to establish a fair immigration policy.

“One big event we have coming up is actually right after Hispanic Heritage Month ends,” Encizo said, “but we’re going to have a big Latin dance here in Davies.”

Encizo invites all students interested to attend the dance on Oct. 17 in the Tamarack Room in Davies Center.

Encizo not only believes in being proud of his Hispanic culture, but that all cultures are important, he said.

“I think any kind of heritage is important,” Encizo said, “it’s not just about being Hispanic or Mexican that’s important, it’s about knowing your own culture.”

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Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off