El Centro Latino (ECL) is a program that promotes education and diversity at Bellevue College (BC). The El Centro Latino space at the Student Programs is a place where Latino/a students can find resources, support and connection within the college community. The program does a lot of outreach to encourage students to pursue a higher education.
El Centro Latino is currently defunct but it will be back in fall quarter with many events planned. Gabriela Gonzalez, Director of El Centro Latino, and the rest of the members are already planning many events targeted but not limited to Latino students. In explaining the purpose of ECL, Gonzalez also brought up a club at campus that is affiliated to the program.
The Latin American Culture Club (LACC) is a club at Bellevue College that is affiliated and directly linked to ECL. “The difference between LACC and ECL is that LACC focuses more on campus activities and ECL focuses more on outreach programs and other activities outside of campus environment,” explained Gonzalez. She also said that members of LACC are mostly members of ECL as well.
According to Gonzalez, the program is going to take part in the Culture Week event that is planned collectively with the other culture clubs at BC. Gonzalez explained that the week-long event is intended to introduce and promote the different programs and cultural clubs at campus. Gonzalez is planning for the event to create unity around the campus environment and so new students will be more comfortable from having connections and new friends.
Aside from the Culture Week, the program is also planning to have a big celebration for the Hispanic Heritage Month that will be going on in September until October. The Hispanic Heritage Month, according to Gonzalez, celebrates the Latino culture with lots of events.
“There will be important speakers speaking during the Hispanic Heritage Month ….[a] political science professor from the University of Washington, Luis Fraga, Representatives of Immigration Affairs of Seattle, Magdaleno Rose-Avila and others,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez added that during the one-month celebration, there will be plenty of food with Latin music playing. She also mentioned that the event will be a good opportunity for students to learn a little bit more about the Latino culture.
In organizing and preparing for the event, Gabriela has the members of LACC and ECL, advisors and people from Multi Cultural Services (MCS) behind her back. “I need the input from all the people involved with ECL to make the Hispanic Heritage Month the best celebration ever,” said Gonzalez.
In the past, The El Centro Latino program had conducted many successful events such as the Latino Parent Night and the Cinco de Mayo celebration. Gonzalez was really impressed by the number of attendees coming to both events. All of it would not be possible without the careful and long planning by ECL, LACC and other parties involved.
For now, Gonzalez is focusing on planning a fun, educational and informative event at the time of the Hispanic Heritage Month. Gabriella commented, “The event is open to everyone and we want to encourage discussions about some of the topics we will be talking about.”
Gonzalez added that the speakers would talk about the impact of the Latino the community in the United States and a little bit about education. They would also talk about how the Latino community is growing and the changes that are happening within the community.