Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson
Pão de queijo, plátanos fritos and café con leche are a few of the foods that bring together Northwestern’s Latinx community during Latinx Heritage Month.
Running from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15., Latinx Heritage Month provides student organizations and NU administrators with an opportunity to celebrate Latinx culture, and also offers workshops and discussions open to the NU community. Students and faculty have found unique ways to combat the challenges of a dispersed student population amid the pandemic.
Dale Duro Latin Dance Company kicked off the month’s festivities with an Instagram series on food recipes and a breakdown of the history of dances such as bachata, flamenco and reggaeton.
For Weinberg junior and Dale Duro Vice President Nicole Villalba, belonging to a Latinx community on campus is especially important at times when she is missing home. The dance group Dale Duro prides itself on being inclusive to all backgrounds and cultures as well.
“Not all of our students are Latinx, which I think is really great,” Villalba said. “They’re just people who love dance and want to know more about our culture.”
Utilizing passive and active virtual programming, Multicultural Student Affairs hosted a wide range of events, from virtual art tours of Pilsen murals to social media campaigns about Latinx voting history and resources.
MSA Associate Director Alejandro Magaña sees the obstacles created by a pandemic as an opportunity to be creative.
“The time that we would have spent looking at spaces on campus, arranging flights, hotels and all that, we used in different ways to expand the search as far as the types of speakers and platforms, so it’s not just Zoom,” Magaña said.
Accounting for NU’s academic calendar, MSA’s programming extends beyond the end of Latinx Heritage Month up until the Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, which ends on Nov. 2.
“It’s critical that students have opportunities to engage around their multiple intersecting identities and… have spaces to process those with other students,” Magaña said.
Weinberg college advisor and biology Prof. Marcelo Vinces said he relies on the support of colleagues across schools and majors, as he is the only Latinx identifying member in his department.
“You find community where you can, but when you’re just going to departmental meetings or going to the classes in your major you don’t get to do those connections,” Vinces said. “That’s another reason why these University wide events, which are social events are important for all of us to connect with each other.”
MSA’s Café con Leche event connected students with Latinx faculty and staff. Vinces, who attended the meet and greet, said now more than ever faculty and staff must be intentional with their outreach beyond just Latinx Heritage Month.
“My identity has always been important in my education and career but that I have had to look extra hard to find those spaces where the intersections of my interest in science and my identity meet,” Vinces added. “Thankfully, there are those spaces (at Northwestern).”
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