OU promotes diversity

The Center for Multicultural Initiatives is hosting its 13th Annual Hispanic Celebration Month, and Oakland University students are celebrating the diversity by indulging in authentic Hispanic foods, crafts, music and dance.

Nicole Luccio, retention coordinator for the CMI, said the event she most anticipated was the Independence Day Celebration, which took place Sept. 15.

That day, Hispanic nations including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — declared independence from Spain.

“We are trying to establish a tradition with our Independence Day Celebration,” Luccio said.

This is the second time the university has celebrated the Hispanic Independence Day.

Luccio, who has organized the Hispanic Celebration Month committee for three years, said that this year the attention will be drawn back from Mexico. The events will focus on celebrating the many other Spanish-speaking states “while still celebrating Mexico.”

The Independence Day Celebration brought attention to Peru.

The event began with an art ritual, the Kolla Raymi, in which the four cherished elements — earth, fire, water and wind — of the Andean Cosmovision are utilized channel a connection between nature and spirit.

Students were treated to Peruvian cuisine, like empanada de carne and chicken satay,  craft-work items from local producers, an informative slideshow of Peruvian history, and invited to join OU’s Spanish Club.

There was also a performance of many different Mexican folk dances, along with performances of the Peruvian dances Marinera, Festejo and Huayano.

Lisa Vecchio, a political science major, attended celebration.

“I stopped by to get a taste of other cultures, and the food, of course,” she said.

Vecchio, the administrative assistant for OUSC, helped organize the opening ceremony.

Attendees could pick up fair-trade product samples like organic chocolate and hear a speech from professor Alan Epstein about the policies of that economic movement, the shared social and commercial benefits of non-exploitative trade practices between developed and developing nations.

The celebration month also includes community service.

“This year we’ll be going to the Hispanic Outreach Center of Pontiac,” Luccio said.  The tradition of student charity began last year with work on the center’s community garden, which will be continued this year, and will be expanded with tutoring students learning English.

CMI peer mentors, Brandon Lanyon, Cecile Le, Angela Yee and Bani Bordoloi are among the many students and faculty that helped to organize and promote the events.

The work is intensive and comprehensive, the members said.

“There’s a lot of Facebook, e-mail banners … and the website,” Lanyon said.

They agreed that the work has generated a successful turnout for the events.

Upcoming events include Salsa dance lessons, an opportunity to paint with the artist Nora Chapa Mendoza, a trip to Mexican-Town and the Detroit Institute of Art.

The celebration will culminate in an event called Cafe Bohemia, Sept. 29, where OU students will gather and share literary work they have composed in Spanish.

“I’m really looking forward to all of the events,”  Luccio said.  “The council really put together a great calendar this year.”

Students can find more information and follow events at oakland.edu/hcm