OU celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Bridget Janis, Staff Reporter

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for all Oakland University students, staff and faculty members to come together and celebrate Hispanic culture. The month long celebration takes place Monday, Sept. 17–Friday, Oct. 19 and offers multiple events to help members of the campus community get involved in the celebration.

Amy Joa, a retention coordinator for the Center for Multicultural Initiatives, has been on the committee for three years and serves as this year’s lead coordinator.

“Every year we try to get better and part of getting better is by networking and bringing in as many people as possible,” she said.

The Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO) Committee is made up of people from multiple groups including: Spanish Club, OU Student Congress, Sigma Delta Pi, HALO and Student Program Board. This committee plans the upcoming events that take place throughout the month.

“We have some really great students who are dedicated to diversity and what they’re doing already,” Joa said. “They have helped us plan some really great programs.”

The Opening Ceremony took place on Sept. 17. Jorge Chinea, academic director for Latin American studies at Wayne State University, came and presented on Puerto Rico and the effects that Hurricane Maria had one year later on the community.

Throughout the entire month there will be a school supplies drive. All donations made will go to the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pontiac. On Sept. 22, there was a community service project where students helped prepare the center’s facility and grounds for the fall.

HALO Hump Day will be celebrated on Wednesday, Sept. 26, featuring Don Alberto and the Azteca ceremonial dancers. They will be performing pre-Hispanic danzas, or dances, and there will be traditional treats supplied.

This year, the committee is bringing back a trip to Detroit, to take a tour through the Eastern Market, the Detroit Institutes of Arts and Mexican Town. This event takes place on Saturday, Sept. 29, with limited spots available.

“We have a vibrant community in Detroit, in southwest Detroit, particularly,” Joa said.

New this year, Joa started a book club discussion, featuring the book “Her Body and Other Parties,” by Carmen Maria Machado. The book has a collection of short stories ranging from psychological realism and science fiction to comedy and horror. “Her Body and Other Parties” will be raffled off at every event, so students will have several chances to win a copy. Students are also encouraged to visit Kresge Library or the CMI office to check out a copy. The discussion will take place on Oct. 12 in the Oakland Center.

“It’s got a lot of different parts to it and the idea there was that if a community—faculty, staff, students—can come together and read this book,” Joa said. “Now I know students are busy, so we thought maybe having a book that has some short stories might even be a little more user friendly.”

The last event of the month will be an International Night/Quinceñera/Salsa Night. This event is with a local family that will be celebrating their daughter’s 15th birthday, traditionally seen as a young woman’s coming of age in the Spanish-speaking world. After the Quinceñera, members of the Spanish Club and HALO will be putting on a salsa night, where students and staff members can spend time learning salsa and dancing the night away.

“We want students to know they are all welcome, so even if this has nothing to do with who you are personally, with your own family background, your culture, your major, anything like that. I encourage students, I dare students, to come out and try something new, to come to an event that pushes you out of your comfort zone,” Joa said. “But know that when you come, you’re going to be welcomed.”