Sept. 15 marks the beginning of Latinx Heritage Month and the Carolina Latinx Center is ringing it in with a "Kick Off" in the Pit, where there will be student organizations, University departments, music and food.
Throughout the month, the center will host a number of events, including a keynote address by two-time Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez, a student-led Carnaval showcase and a dinner at the Top of Lenoir Dining Hall — which broke out into a conga line last year.
Marcela Torres-Cervantes is the assistant director of theCarolina Latinx Center and helped come up with this year's theme for Latinx Heritage Month: Vivir Mi Vida.
“It really centers and celebrates the idea of living authentically and being true to who you are," said Torres-Cervantes."That’s kind of what we are looking for and people who are living their lives in their most truest forms and also what challenges that comes with, what celebrations that comes with and all those different pieces.”
During last year’s Latinx Heritage Month, one of the biggest things that Torres-Cervantes took away from the events that the center hosted was how happy everyone was to be around each other once again, especially after the pandemic.
“People were just ready to be in community with one another. We might have been outside, it might have been sweaty, but we were just happy to get be in the community, and I love that. I feel like that is the essence of the heritage month,” she said.
Gabrielly Nolasco, a junior at UNC, is a Student Ambassador for Latinx Heritage Month. She is looking forward to a makeup tutorial event on Oct. 6, entitled Titi Me Pregunto.
“We are having a Latinx artist come in to show how to do makeup, so we are having a makeup workshop. They will do a makeup tutorial and then we will give out free makeup products,” said Nolasco.
Juan Castro, a first-year Master of Public Health candidate, is a Graduate Student Ambassador at the center this year. During his time as an undergraduate student at the University, he watched the Carolina Latinx Centergrow into what it is today.
"I went from just a number to actually being understood and included,” said Castro.
He said the establishment of the center in Abernethy Hall changed his perspective of being a Latinx student at a predominantly white institution.
“Me personally, the CLC went from being another Latinx student at a PWI to being a Latinx student at UNC,” Castro said.
Castro participated in Latinx Heritage Month with the center last year and is most looking forward to the kick off in the Pit this year. After being online for the previous two years, he is excited to see flocks of students coming to join in on the celebration for the beginning of Latinx Heritage Month.
Castro said whenever he thinks of Latinx culture or Latinx Heritage Month, he immediately thinks of the word "beautiful."
“A lot of the times, we are all bogged down into one identity and one monolithic interpretation of what Latinx means and if you just get exposed to Latinx culture once, you understand that that’s not the case,” Castro said. “Every country, every nationality has a different culture, has a different vernacular, has a different favorite food even or a favorite dance and I think that’s the beauty of it all.”
A full list of the center's Latinx Heritage Month events can be found here.
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