By Jo Nguyen
New College students celebrated LatinX Heritage Month with a series of events organized by the Student Activities and Campus Engagement, along with the Center of Career Engagement and Opportunity and the LatinX Club.
The month kicked off with an art gallery showing created by New College LatinX students. Prior to the event, students organized crafting sessions to work on these pieces together. These art pieces explored what LatinX identity and heritage meant to individuals which took on different forms and interpretations for everyone.
“The purpose of these events were to have the NCF LatinX community explore and share our diversity. It was meant to increase our visibility. Part of that visibility is authentically celebrating our heritage and its distinctions that make our community so diverse and beautiful,’” Gabriela Ott, a second-year New College LatinX student and an organizer of the month’s events.
One of Ott’s main focuses was the Culture Fair Oct. 6. The event featured LatinX students offering homemade ethnic foods. Students at other booths showcased traditional toys, musical instruments and art from their individual LatinX cultures. In addition, DK Dance Studio instructors taught different cultural dances.
Ott sees activities like cooking and dance as important to cultural preservation.
“I’ve seen the struggle of finding a balance between assimilation and preservation from my mom, who’s a Colombian immigrant,” Ott said. “I think most non-LatinX people don’t realize that preservation is a constant battle, especially from generation to generation.”
A few days following the Culture Fair, the Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity hosted the “LatinX Identity in the Workshop,” bringing in professionals across different fields to speak about their experience of being LatinX in their line of work.
The speakers — Gabriella Elmir, biology instructor at Sarasota Military Academy and a New College alumna; Andres Paz, chief executive officer and owner of marketing firm FAMA Productions; and Hector Tejeda, director of education initiatives with UnidosNow — discussed the opportunities they took advantage of as students and how they overcame barriers to be where they are today.
The variety of events in LatinX Heritage Month allow students to connect with and express their cultures in ways that make them feel visible.
“My identity is a part of my life and my culture. But it’s important to acknowledge that everyone handles preservation in different ways and there’s no wrong way. But personally, my LatinX identity is a source of pride and something I find great strength from,” Ott said.
Although LatinX Heritage Month has concluded, LatinX students can join the LatinX Club to celebrate their diversity and share their Latin American identity.
— Jo Nguyen is an intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing at New College of Florida.