Students share what Hispanic Heritage Month means to them

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    National Hispanic Heritage Month is in full swing and, for some students, being Hispanic has made their experience at TCU unique.

    Dayna Martin, a sophomore bilingual education major, said Hispanic Heritage Month is important because its events give visibility to the Hispanic community, a group that she says is underrepresented in the mainstream and on campus.

    “It’s a very small community,” said President of the United Latino Association (ULA) Raul Salas. “When I came here it was a bit of a culture shock.”

    At TCU, Hispanics made up about 10 percent of the student body last year, according to the TCU Office of Institutional Research.

    The Inclusion and Intercultural Services Department (IIS) has partnered with the United Latino Association to put together some of the events to help support students, to bring awareness to their culture and to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

    “It’s not just our department, but it’s a collaboration with the students,” said IIS director Leslie Chanthaphasouk.

    The events are designed to allow students to learn more about other cultures and to start a dialogue among students, she said.

    “It’s not just that person’s culture and celebrating that person, but you’re also celebrating the fabric of TCU, the diversity of TCU,” Chanthphasouk said. “When you learn about someone else, I think you learn about yourself too, in which ways you’re similar and which ways you’re different and how we bridge those differences.”

    Despite feeling underrepresented on campus, Martin said it makes her feel even prouder to be here.

    “It is definitely an accomplishment just to be here,” she said. “And to know that I’m one of the few Hispanic, to know that I’m one of the few Latinas, females, in my high school to go to a private university is pretty cool.”

    Festivities for National Hispanic Heritage Month will come to a close Oct. 17 with the Fiesta de Otoño on the patio in front of Chick-fil-A outside of the BLUU.

    The Fiesta de Otoño will include music, food, games and informational boards to showcase the Hispanic culture, Salas said.

    Even though Hispanic Heritage Month comes only once a year, some students said they will apply what they learn all year-round.

    Salas said he tries to organize other events and workshops through ULA all year long.

    It’s an accomplishment to have a whole month dedicated to the Hispanic culture and heritage, but Hispanics have to carry that pride with them all year, Martin said.

    For a full list of Hispanic Heritage Month events, see the map of TCU Language and Culture Fest events, times and locations below:

    Map of event locations by Tyler Shahin.