Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) has another exciting month of events planned for Hispanic Heritage Month. The holiday, which is celebrated every year in the U.S. from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, honors the histories, cultures, and contributions of people living in country whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is important for all members of our community, as it is a time not only to celebrate Hispanic culture but also to honor and bring awareness to the contributions persons of Hispanic/Latinx backgrounds bring to our campus and community,” said Nuria Sanchez, Student Services Analyst, STEM, and Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee member. “Hispanic Heritage Month provides visibility to Hispanic heritage and allows our Latinx students to see themselves and their historical identities represented on our campus.”
What started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson was eventually turned into a month-long holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The celebration starts on Sept. 15 because that is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Other significant dates during the month include Mexico’s and Chile’s independence days on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively, and Columbus Day, or Dia de la Raza, on Oct. 12.
EMCC kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month from noon to 2 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Estrella Conference Center. Guests will be treated to a Mariachi performance and Mexican cuisine, as well as a variety of activities including the opportunity to create Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, masks and tissue paper flowers. Dia de los Muertos is celebrated over a three-day period, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. During this time, the dead are said to temporarily return to Earth and their family members honor them with ofrendas, or altars, in their homes and cemeteries. The ofrendas hold offerings for the spirits — water, food, photos, and candles — and marigolds to help guide the spirits back.
The kickoff event will also feature a flag matching game, Loteria also known as Mexican bingo, a voter registration booth, and Amigo Grams — bags filled with American and Mexican candy to be delivered to amigos on campus. Each Amigo Gram costs $1. Proceeds, which are matched dollar for dollar by the U.S. Department of Education, benefit Title V student scholarships.
“Last year, we raised close to $700 from the sale of Amigo Grams,” said Debra Maihofer, Program Analyst for Institutional Advancement and co-chair of EMCC’s Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee. “That wound up being almost $1,400 after the match.”
Other planned Hispanic Heritage Month events include:
- Sept. 18 — “History of Dia de los Muertos” from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Room 134 at the Buckeye Educational Center, 902 E. Eason Ave., Buckeye.
- Sept. 24 — “What’s Your Story” from noon to 1 p.m in the Plaza Gallery. EMCC President Dr. Rey Rivera will speak about education and the journey to his success.
- Sept. 25 — “MECHA 2.0” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Estrella Conference Center. The event will serve as the student club’s kickoff.
- Sept. 26 — “Cesar Chavez Luncheon” from noon to 1 p.m. at the Estrella Conference Center. The luncheon will commemorate the life of Chavez, an American labor leader and Latino American civil rights activist. RSVPs are required; email [email protected].
- Oct. 1 — A film showing of “Under the Same Moon” from 10 a.m. to noon in Estrella Hall Community Room South 260. The movie is about a young Mexican boy who illegally travels to the U.S. to find his mother (who is illegally in the U.S.) after his grandmother dies.
- Oct. 2 — A film showing of “Selena” followed by a discussion from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Buckeye Educational Center, 902 E. Eason Ave., Buckeye.
- Oct. 3 — A film showing of “Instructions Not Included” from 10 a.m. to noon in Estrella Hall Community Room South 260. The movie follows a man who has made a new life for himself and the daughter left on his doorstep six years ago but finds his family threatened when the birth mother resurfaces.
- Oct. 7 — Laura Pastor speaking from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Estrella Conference Center. The Phoenix City Councilwoman will speak about generating political awareness and activism and share her experiences in leadership.
- Oct. 10 — STEM Panel from 3:30 to 6 p.m. in the Estrella Conference Center. The panel will include EMCC alumni and STEM professionals.
“I hope students and employees alike get to immerse in our Hispanic culture this month and leave sessions being more informed about our history, and influence to EMCC, our state, and nation,” Sanchez said.