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ONU celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

October means several things for different people. Halloween festivals, pumpkin carving contests, haunted houses and different fall festivities are common activities to participate in during the month. For one group at Ohio Northern University, October represents a different, much deeper meaning.

This is Hispanic Heritage Month, and for ONU's Latino/a Student Union, this is the best time of the year for the vibrant multicultural diversity on campus. "Hispanic Heritage Month helps me remember
my Hispanic culture and traditions. It is the time when we gather and honor the Hispanics who have influenced many people's lives," said Karina Banuelos, treasurer of the Latino/a Student Union.
For organization president Victoria Suarez, this month "is kind of like the 4th of July for Americans. We are celebrating our independence as a culture. Families gather to celebrate and honor the people who worked to overcome diversities."

There are several activities for the ONU campus community to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. First up will be a Comedic Movie Night, featuring "Bandidas", on Thursday, Oct. 3, in the Affinity Commons at 7 p.m. It is free and food will be provided. This movie tells the story of two female robbers in the west, starring Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz.

Then, the first-ever Latin Festival is planned in Affinity Commons on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 2-7 p.m. There will be music, dancing, food, water balloon toss and soccer matches. Tickets are $5 for
the festival. "The Latino/a Student Union is so excited for the Latin Festival this year. We are thrilled to introduce our culture to others and teach our traditions. It should be a fun day for everyone
involved," said Suarez.

Hispanic Heritage Month, which traditionally occurs between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15, celebrates the history, culture and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean islands, Central America and South America. The celebration began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson, and expanded under Ronald Reagan's presidency in 1988.

The month officially became recognized on Aug. 17, 1988. In America, 53 million citizens belong to the Hispanic origin, with 37.6 billion citizens speaking the Spanish language fluently. The culture
continues to grow vastly across the United States, with the ethnic or racial minority amounting to 17 percent of the nation's total population. "It’s amazing to be recognized for our cultures, because the Latin countries had to go through so much tragedy and hard work for recognition," stated Suarez.

Hispanic Heritage Month helps modern Hispanics remember the harsh cruelties that their ancestors faced several centuries ago. "We honor the sacrifices our ancestors made so we can be who we are today," added Banuelos. For more information about the Latino/a Student Union, visit the organization’s meetings every other Thursday from 5-6 p.m. in Conference Room 7 of MacIntosh Hall. Or, contact Victoria Suarez at v-suarez@onu.edu.

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