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Hispanic Festival kicks off the month of September

Grand Valley State University is starting the month of September with a bang by bringing Hispanic
Heritage Month to the campus.

The 36th Annual Hispanic Festival kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month at the Calder Plaza downtown
on Sept. 7. Filled with music, dance, culture and food, it is the largest Hispanic festival in West
Michigan.

The festival is coordinated by the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, which is a non-profit
organization that serves the needs of the Hispanic population as well as the broader community of
Michigan.

The purpose of the Hispanic Festival is to enhance cross-cultural understanding through the arts,
music and cuisine of over 20 Spanish-speaking countries. Along with the Hispanic Festival,
Hispanic Heritage Month offers different events students can attend during the month of September
and October that aim to educate about the Latino culture. It helps to show others from different
demographics about what it means to be Hispanic and allows Latinos to teach and be a part of a
celebration of their culture.

Veronica Beltran, a member of the Latino Student Union, helps faculty plan events and works to
promote the events and show support.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is important to me personally for many reasons,” Beltran said. “I am very
proud to be Mexican-American and my culture is something that I adore and love.”

Beltran encourages students and faculty from all backgrounds to attend as many events as
possible.

“The Latino community is growing at a fast-paced rate and in order to discontinue stereotypes and
misconceptions about my community, others need to be aware about our issues and culture,” she
said.

One of Beltran’s favorite events is the Latino Civil Rights tour that will take place on Sept. 23.

“The Latino culture and community is so diverse that each event spotlights something different
from our community, whether it draws attention to domestic violence within immigrants or it
reshapes the way people perceive Columbus,” Beltran said.

GVSU holds different cultural events year-round and works with outside groups in the Grand Rapids
area in an effort to give students the experience of different walks of life.

“To be successful in this world, one must be knowledgeable of other cultures and issues that aren’t
those of their own,” she said.

Admission to all events during the month is free and open to the public.

More information can be found at the GVSU website under “Events” or at
www.gvsu.edu/oma/hispanic-heritage-month-36.htm.

ccummings@lanthorn.com



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