By Erick Heredia
From Sept. 16–Oct. 16, the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) celebrates Latino Heritage Month. According to ALAS co–moderator and theology teacher Mr. Tom Cendejas, the club is going to set up a cultural art display, invite Latino alumni as guests speakers, sponsor a concert during lunch, and hire a taco truck on campus to help promote and celebrate Latino culture at Loyola.
ALAS will feature a variety of student activities as part of the celebration. ALAS Vice President Andrew Perez, a senior, said he is very optimistic about the success of Latino Heritage Month, which he spent weeks planning with the club moderators as well as with the members of ALAS: “Latino Heritage Month is designed to share with the rest of the Loyola community the culture that we, Latinos, take pride in. Our goal is also to inform people outside the Latino community about different parts of our culture that some do not know.”
Festivities are not the central focus of Latino Heritage Month. ALAS will also host debates and discussions about the social politics among the Latino community. “There are many misconceptions that are out in the world about every ethnicity. I believe everyone has a duty to dispel the stereotypes,” said Perez. “For this very reason, ALAS has planned events for all students to participate in.”
Mr. Cendejas said that he shares similar optimisms about the project and the purpose it serves in addressing the Latino community at Loyola, especially the students, and in preventing the culture from dissociating through the generations: “You lose something precious, when you distance yourself.”
Math teacher Mrs. Susan Torales, ALAS co–moderator, said, “I’m very happy we’re putting more effort into the club this year, and it’s cool that in the morning I can hear my students and other faculty talk about how they feel about their Latino heritage.”
Freshman Brandon Ortiz, a member of ALAS, said, “Not only is it a celebration for Latinos, but it is also an opportunity for people from other cultures to experience the Latino customs.” Adrian Jauregui, a junior member of ALAS, said, “Celebrating such an integral part of the student body is immensely important so that the Latino culture can be better understood by the rest of the school.”
ALAS has also invited guest speakers from Latino organizations such as the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the National Hispanic Institute. Magdalena Mireles is the California Regional Coordinator for NCLR’s Los Angeles office. She will make a presentation to ALAS about NCLR’s role in the Latino community on Thursday, Oct. 8, in Otero Lecture Hall at lunch. Jaime Rojas Jr.‘91, member of the Latino Alumni Society will speak today and provide information to the club about the programs offered by the National Hispanic Institute.
Mr. Cendejas said, “Latino Heritage Month serves various purposes. Some are educational, some are celebrative, and some are an opportunity for people to voice their solidarity. I feel like there’s a particular urgency for it right now because there are voices in the media and in politics today that are definitely painting a wrong and simplistic, negative image of Latinos, which can be very painful to all of us and especially to young people. So by having a Latino Heritage Month, it’s a way of telling the truth against the falsehoods.”