Loomis Chaffee celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15 with a series of events and activities honoring the history and culture of Latine and Hispanic Americans.
Pa’lante, a student affinity group, organized the series with support from the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and other campus organizations and departments.
National Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 in the United States because it is the anniversary of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.
The Island celebration included screenings of documentary and fictional films followed by student-led “hot-topic” discussions on the Hispanic experience in the United States. Traditional food was shared with the community during Harvest Fest, and Pa’lante members, in collaboration with DEI interns, worked on daily “did you know facts” and co-sponsored a Hispanic Heritage Month game for students and faculty.
The month-long celebration culminated with Latine Fest, formally known as Latinx Fest, on Friday, October 15. Students and other school community members enjoyed music, dancing, games, and food inspired by Latine and Hispanic cultures.
The name of the celebration was changed after Pa’lante members found that Latinx, a gender-neutral term used to replace gendered vowels, is a more anglicized term and is harder to pronounce in Spanish, said senior Maria Paula, who serves as co-president of Pa’lante along with senior Pilar Wingle and junior Angelina Amastal. The name change was proposed and accepted by the group.
The Mariachi Academy of New England, an organization that helps spread Latine culture through music, cultural education, and performances, provided energetic music for the gathering; senior Kate Shymkiv led a Salsa lesson; and plaintain chips, hot peppers, and authentic Mexican food from the Los Mariachis food truck were available.
Pa’lante, which means “go forward,” was formed two years ago to unite self-identifying Hispanic, Latino/a, and Latine members of the Loomis community by creating a safe space and providing opportunities for identity development and advocacy, according to the group’s mission statement. By hosting cultural events and leading discussions, the group works “to build community and awareness of our culture and heritage,” said Pilar.