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Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated on campus with student event, keynote speaker

Oct 14, 2022
by Anna Boone, Carly Hargroves contributed reporting

In 1988, the month-long celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month was codified as a national period of observance recognizing the cultures and contributions of people in the U.S. who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

This month of celebration, which begins on Sept. 15, also coincides with the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua reminding us to recognize the rich history of Latin American countries.

“Hispanic Heritage Month to me means celebrating my culture and who I am,” senior Kandy Marroquin said. “It also reminds me to appreciate what my family has worked hard for.”

During the past four weeks, the Latin American Students Organization (L.A.S.O.) and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion partnered to host events celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.

 

Cooking with L.A.S.O.

On Oct. 6, student leaders from L.A.S.O. worked with Mary Rose Pedron, assistant director of DE&I, to host a showcase for members of Flagler’s Latin and Hispanic community to share recipes close to their hearts and talk about their culture.

“Last year Mary Rose hosted a similar event but for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month,” Marroquin, who is also L.A.S.O. vice president said. “We all loved how that event turned out, so we decided that it would be a perfect opportunity for us to share our favorite Latin meals with the school.”

The event was potluck style with small signs describing each dish, and participants also had a chance to share how they made the dishes.

“Every culture is different, which is what makes it so unique,” Marroquin said. “Recipes are passed down from many generations and are shared with the ones that we love. Each time that these meals are made they create memories with those people.”

Part of Marroquin’s personal celebration of this month included creating different events like this one with L.A.S.O. where students can share their “culture and history with the Flagler community.”

With about 40 people in attendance, L.A.S.O. Treasurer Mandy Nicole said the event was a success.

“We had a great turnout considering we completely ran out of food by the end of the event,” she said.

Nicole considers food a “very big” part of celebrating Latin culture.

“Cooking is a way to connect with our ancestors as their recipes are passed on, and we celebrate the life they lived by sharing these foods,” Nicole said.

She sees recognizing her ancestors as a key part of Hispanic Heritage Month and said celebrating this month “feels like a hug from late grandparents.”

“Hispanic Heritage month means to me that I get to honor those that came before me by celebrating the beautiful culture they have passed onto me,” she said.

 

The Walk of the Immigrants: Hispanic Heritage Month Keynote Speaker

Saul Flores, philanthropist and public speaker, visited Flagler on Oct. 13 to share the story of a 5,328-mile journey he made across Latin America to raise awareness of the experience many immigrants face while leaving their home countries.

During his sophomore year of college, Flores felt called to visit Atencingo, Mexico, his mother’s hometown, on a service trip.

“I just found myself so curious about my own identity, that I started leading these service trips back to mother’s hometown in Mexico,” he said.

While he was there, the local elementary school captured his attention.

“In an unexpecting place, I discovered a community I was meant to serve,” he said.

He said while this elementary school was lit up with the joy of the children who were there, it was lacking the educational resources necessary for the students to continue their education and pursue their dreams.

Part of the reason Flores felt drawn to working with this elementary school was his mother’s affinity for education and the sacrifice she made to provide him with the best education possible.

“She was so adamant about the power of education,” he said.

This was in part what inspired Flores to make this journey, the same journey his parents once made. He traveled from Ecuador all the way to Charlotte, N.C. over the course of three months. He walked and hitchhiked through 10 countries trying to gain a sense of the unimaginable experience his parents and other immigrants had to go through to come to the U.S.

Flores documented through photography the essence of the people, communities, and cultures he encountered along the way.

“I believe that every person has an incredible story to tell,” he said.

After the journey, he sold those photographs in an effort to raise funds to support the elementary school in Atencingo.

Today, through his organization LoveWalk, Flores works on various projects like a documentary with the goal of educating, advocating, and bringing awareness to what he sees as the  “immigrant plight.”

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