North Texas Daily

UNT’s Hispanic Heritage Month activities encourage the celebration of culture, language

UNT’s Hispanic Heritage Month activities encourage the celebration of culture, language

UNT’s Hispanic Heritage Month activities encourage the celebration of culture, language
October 04
00:15 2018

UNT is celebrating its first annual Hispanic Heritage Month this fall with events including salsa dancing lessons, games, movies and more. Hispanic Heritage Month lasts from mid-September to mid-October with the finale taking place from 2-2:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 in the Language Building lobby.

Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 to celebrate the diversity of Hispanic cultures from Latin America, Spain and the U.S., and mid-September is when several Latin American countries, including Mexico and Costa Rica, celebrate their independence day.

Hispanic Heritage Month events are open to all students and are free, with the exception of salsa dancing lessons, which cost $2 per person. Events are limited to 28-30 students per activity.

“Students can enjoy the movies, games, dances and other activities even if they do not study Spanish,” Spanish professor Esther Sanchez-Couto said. “It helps students become familiar with the cultural wealth of the Hispanic world.”

These events were a collaborative effort between department chairman Samuel Manickam, along with Spanish professors, lecturers and adjunct faculty who began organizing and planning the events at the end of the spring 2018 semester.

“This is the first time our department is organizing this celebration, though we’ve talked about it for years, so it’s exciting to see it all come together so well,” Manickam said. “This will be an annual event in our department from now on.”

While students enrolled in Spanish courses may receive extra credit for attending the events, the activities were designed for students of all backgrounds, and Manickam encourages all students to attend, because they “may make new friends and, hopefully, be encouraged to learn Spanish.”

Additionally, Manickam suggests that students who expose themselves to another culture may increase their knowledge and become more open-minded.

“Not only do [Spanish students] get credit for attendance, but they also meet other students from other classes and levels, and they have fun watching movies, playing popular games and learning to dance,” Sanchez-Couto said. “Just go and enjoy the experience.”

Manickam said attendance at the events has been high, with the salsa dancing lessons being particularly popular.

International studies freshman Sydney Hulen said she is planning to attend the salsa dancing lessons and the lecture featuring alumnus speaker Vanessa Ibarra on the importance of Spanish in the nonprofit world.

“[The lecture] seems interesting as I am minoring in Spanish and am considering going into the nonprofit industry,” Hulen said. “I also wanted to attend one of the salsa lessons because I really love dancing, even if I am not the best at it.”

Although the events are intended to be fun, Manickam reiterates that the true purpose of Hispanic Heritage Month is to raise cultural awareness, as Hispanics and/or Spanish speakers are expanding quickly and represent a major component of the cultural makeup in the U.S. and around the world.

“It is important to remember, recognize and celebrate the many Hispanic cultures, since Hispanics are a fast-growing presence in Texas and the country,” Manickam said. “Hispanics are everywhere in the U.S. now — in entertainment, in sports, in politics, in education, in fashion and in music — so it is important to recognize and understand Hispanics and the variety of cultures they represent.”

Hulen added other motivations for students and people on campus to attend the activities.

“I would absolutely encourage people to try and attend at least some of the events,” Hulen said. “There is always the possibility of meeting new friends and discovering interests you didn’t know you had. Also, who doesn’t appreciate live music and free food?”

Activities for the upcoming week include:

Oct. 3: Guest speaker and alumni Vanessa Ibarra

Oct. 4: Showing of “También la lluvia”

Oct. 5: Cascarones painting, Parques (a Colombian board game)

A full list of events, including specific locations and times, can be found at

Featured Image: A bulletin board in the Language Building informs students about the Department of Spanish’s activities for Hispanic Heritage Month. Cindy Ngo

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Abigail Hurtt

Abigail Hurtt

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