By Lauren Piskothy | firstname.lastname@example.org
Every year, Flagler College puts together a week of events to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The week consists of readings from Hispanic writers, visiting writer’s panels and most importantly, the student panel, where Hispanic students have a platform to openly share their thoughts and experiences and confront the harmful stereotypes they often face.
Each Hispanic Heritage Month has a theme, and this year’s theme is “Hispanic Americans: A History of Serving Our Nation,” according to hispanicheritagemonth.org. The theme was chosen in honor of the contributions Hispanic people have made to U.S. history.
Commemorating the historical impacts Hispanic people have made in the U.S. is really important to Sofia Estavillo, panelist and Flagler College media production student. She identifies as Mexican-American and is currently working on a documentary about the children of immigrants and how they understand their heritage.
“Hispanic heritage for me means that we honor our history of where our ancestors came from and celebrating the achievements of those of the same descent,” Estavillo said. “I think it’s important to acknowledge the contributions that Hispanics have made not only for the U. S., but also for humanity. Being Hispanic is a major part of my identity, and it’s an honor to be able to share it and celebrate it not only during September, but every day.”
The student panel, which takes place Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. in the Markland House on Flagler College’s campus, allows Hispanic students like Estavillo, to take control of their narrative and help re-shape the perception of Hispanic-Americans into a more genuine representation of their culture and influence.
To Estavillo, one of the most common misconceptions of Hispanic heritage are the relentless stereotypes.
“A lot of people hear ‘Hispanic’ and immediately think anyone that identifies as Hispanic is Mexican,” she said. “There are so many rich cultures from Latin America that aren’t Mexico that deserve the same recognition. Another misconception people have is that Hispanics are ‘spicy.’ A lot of people think Sofia Vergara’s personality of being loud spoken and emotional is typical of all Hispanics. This of course isn’t the case for everyone. This stereotype is as ridiculous as white people not being able to dance or thinking that ketchup is spicy.”
Assistant Professor of English Kim Bradley, one of the organizers of Hispanic Heritage Week, said the event all started when Hispanic writer Carolina Smith came to campus to do a reading. Professors Kim Bradley and Lauren Tivey thought in addition to Smith’s reading, they could come up with a weeks’ worth of events that showcased the works and insights of other Hispanic writers and students.
“We said, ‘Let’s find some students and find out how their creativity is inspired by their heritage,”‘ Bradley said. “And it turned out we found students in all different disciplines.”
Their hope is that Hispanic Heritage Week becomes more widely known and continues to be an inclusive showcase of the Hispanic students across all disciplines at Flagler College. Panelist Sofia Estavillo also hopes recognition of Hispanic heritage continues to grow — not just on campus but around the country.
“I don’t think that a lot of people know about Hispanic Heritage Month yet, but hopefully they will come to learn how rich our cultures are and how important diversity is,” Estavillo said.
Alongside Sofia Estavillo, students Autumn Soto, Laura Aguinaga and Christalyz De Los Santos will be speaking on the panel. For more information visit: https://orgsync.com/140517/events/2748538/occurrences/6614407.