Hispanic Heritage Month, nationally recognized from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year, is particularly meaningful at Seward County Community College, where the student population is nearly double the benchmark required to qualify as a Hispanic Serving Institution. So how do Saints celebrate Hispanic heritage?
Service & Leadership
“We try to schedule service projects during this month, because that is an important component of our student organization HALO,” said Frances Brown, faculty sponsor of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization. This year, HALO has already sponsored a United States Red Cross blood drive and a voter registration drive on campus.
The club typically travels to Kansas State University in Manhattan for the annual Encuentro, designed to provide an environment where students can learn about the unexpected challenges they may encounter during their collegiate years, and how others before have overcome those challenges and attained their educational goals. It is also an educational tool that assists in Latino student identity development.
“This year, we’ll be attending a virtual version of the Encuentro, in the SCCC Showcase Theater on Oct. 6,” said Brown. “Anyone interested in participating should contact me at 417-1300.”
Fun in Many Flavors
Throughout the month, Student Life Director Wade Lyon has scheduled a roster of fun activities, with social distancing factored in for safety. These include a jalapeño-eating contest and free churros for all on Oct. 1, a monthlong Human Word Search designed to increase everyone’s Spanish-language skills and culminating in a drawing for a $100 gift card, and a game day, weather permitting, to be announced.
Saints in multiple locations across campus can take part in the creation of collaborative murals depicting Hispanic heroes. Individual participants can follow the instructions to color an 8.5 x 11″ piece of paper, and the resulting paper “tiles” will be combined to create a seven-foot mural. One version is under construction in the SCCC Library, with another planned for the Student Living Center and a third underway at the Epworth Building/Colvin Adult Learning Center.
Students benefit when they see what success looks like in a context that includes them.
“We talk about leading by example, and sometimes don’t realize that our students need to see examples they can relate to,” said SCCC’s Rachel Coleman, who heads up the campus Inclusiveness & Civility Mover Team. “That’s the rationale behind our ongoing poster campaign on campus and social media — to give Hispanic team members an opportunity to share their stories as a source of inspiration for our students.” The poster campaign is slated for unveiling on Oct. 1.
Instructors, too, are doing what they can to embed HHM content into courses. An open-mic night organized by English instructor Dr. Lori Muntz, will focus on the theme of Hispanic heritage.
More inspiration is to be found in the achievements of Hispanic community members. Through a friendship with SCCC employee Phil Lee, students can connect with Brooklyn, N.Y. -based writer Richie Narvaez. Narvaez will speak to students about the writing process in a virtual appearance scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Narvaez, critically praised for his mastery of noir fiction and comic-book-style adventure, likes to joke that he went to college with the intention of becoming the first Puerto Rican astronaut “and somehow ended up becoming an English major.” Narvaez’ most recent publication, “Hating Holly Hernandez” in You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens was called “[h]ilarious and memorable” by Kirkus Reviews.
This week’s events include:
• Tuesday, Sept. 22, all day: Deadline to sign up for the virtual Encuentro event to be streamed Oct. 6 in the Showcase Theater. Contact Frances Brown at 417-1300 to register.
• Wednesday, Sept. 23, “The Perfect Game” movie (Little League championship 1957, Puerto Rican team), 5 p.m. Showcase Theater, sponsored by HALO.
• Continuation of the “Human Word Search” which challenges students and team members on campus to find Spanish words and phrases hidden across campus in order to be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card.