Kicking off Latino History Month

Bellevue College’s El Centro Latino and Latin American Culture Club are celebrating Hispanic Heritage month with several events to help educate students on Latin American History. One of these events is ECL’s annual tour of Latin America. This year, the tour was spread over two days, Oct. 7 and Oct. 15. The first day showcased the countries of Central America, and the second tour was of South American countries.

Jorge Torres, the ECL coordinator, believed that organizing Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations helped him learn about other Latin American countries, the distinctions between them and the similarities. ECL made the effort to include many different countries and cultures in the tour. Even if there wasn’t a student from that country, student volunteers did research so they could be a representative for that country.

“El Centro Latino promotes awareness of Latin American culture. It aims to educate the student body and uphold BC’s commitment to diversity,” explained Torres. “New elements are added to the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration every year, and existing events are extended and expanded.”

Marian Enriquez is the president of the LACC. Although she is from Mexico, she presented the country of Paraguay on the tour, since there were no LACC members from Paraguay. During her research, she learned about new cultures and their similarities to her own.

“It’s so much fun,” said Enriquez, who worked with Torres to help coordinate and organize the tours of Latin America.

Each country had a decorated display at a table in the cafeteria and a representative there to answer questions. There was also free food available in C120.

Enriquez mentioned that anyone is welcome to drop by El Centro Latino anytime to hang out, say hello or even get help with Spanish homework. “Our doors are open,” she said.

The Argentina stop on the tour was overseen by Sandra Alejandre, who is beginning her second year at BC. Last year in the middle of fall she joined the LACC, and has been with them since. “I love the LACC and Bellevue College in general,” said Alejandre.

Though she is from Mexico, Alejandre noticed some similarities between Argentinian and Mexican culture such as the most popular sport, soccer and the most common religion, Catholicism.
She said there are many people who are part of the LACC, and always people coming and going from ECL.  “Not all the people who frequent El Centro Latino are Latin American,” Alejandre said, and added that the people from different cultures go there to learn about Latin American culture.

Upcoming Hispanic Heritage Month events include a keynote speaker on the subject of Latinos in Education on Oct. 22, and the second annual BC Afro-Latino Fest, which will be on Oct. 28 – 29.