By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—IU Southeast is proud to present a series of conversations illuminating the Latinx experience in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM).
Designated in 1968, the observation runs from Sept. 15—the independence day for a number of Latin American countries—to Oct. 15 to honor the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans of Hispanic descent. It brings together the energies of the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and others to pay tribute to generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society, according to the NHHM website.
At IU Southeast, the conversations cover a wide range of topics and offer fresh perspectives on both history and today’s events and controversies, from cultural identity to the politics of immigration, and from Puerto Rican food to the accomplishments of entertainer Rita Moreno.
“All of our events this year help foster a more inclusive learning and working environment by educating the IU Southeast community about different countries and culture,” said Dr. Jennifer Ortiz, assistant professor of criminology & criminal justice.
With 52 million native and multilingual Spanish-speakers, the United States is the second-largest hispanophone country in the world after Mexico, according to the Instituto Cervantes, the nonprofit founded by the Spanish government to promote the Spanish language and to contribute to the advancement of the cultures of all Spanish speaking countries and communities. That population is expected to grow to 138 million by 2050, by which time the U.S. will boast the world’s largest number of Spanish-speakers. The Louisville Metro Area itself is home to a significant number of people with Hispanic roots, as well as a growing population of recent immigrants from Mexico, Central America, Cuba, Brazil and elsewhere.
“It is important to educate students about these growing populations so that they may be better prepared to understand, empathize and interact with their fellow citizens,” Ortiz said.
By showcasing cutting-edge research by IU Southeast art historians, sociologists, criminologists, historians and political scientists, the program also underscores IU Southeast’s wealth of faculty expertise in areas of interest not only to students of Hispanic culture but to the community at large.
“Knowledge is power and has the ability to transform worldviews and shatter preconceived notions about other groups,” Ortiz said. “Attending these events can help students become better global citizens.”
Program of Events
All events take place from 12:20 to 1:10 p.m. in Crestview Hall, Room 111 (unless otherwise noted).
Documented: A Film by an Undocumented American
Monday, Sept. 24, 6-8 p.m., University Center, Room 127
Criminal Justice Students’ Association (CJSA)
America Invertida: A Reorientation of U.S. and Latin American History
Tuesday, Sept. 25
Dr. Quinn Dauer, assistant professor of history and international studies
¡Vaya Boricua! Puerto Rican Music, Food and Tradition
Monday, Oct. 1
Dr. Jennifer Ortiz, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice
Hispanic Poetry Reading
Wednesday, Oct. 11
IU Southeast Library, Third Floor
Rita Moreno: Legendary Hispanic Entertainer
Thursday, Oct. 4
Dr. Elizabeth Gritter, assistant professor of history
Hispanic/Latino/Spanish Origin: How the Census Helped Shape Ethnicity and Identity in the United States
Monday, Oct. 8
Dr. Greg Kordsmeier, associate professor of sociology
You Don’t Sound Mexican: Language, Authenticity and Cultural Identity
Wednesday, Oct. 10
Dr. Veronica Medina, associate professor of sociology
“Collectively, the events help achieve Indiana University’s goal, stated in the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan, of ensuring that students ‘leave the university with a raised level of awareness of the history of equality and difference . . . so that their understanding of society . . . will be enhanced,'” Ortiz said.