Last Friday, Latino Student Union held a convocation in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Students that attended the event experienced music, community and prayer.

The convocation was organized by the leaders of LSU: Elijah Lora, Nora Rangel, Jorge Soto, Samantha Camacho-Ramirez, Lourdes Resendiz, Jose Ramirez, and their advisor, Rocio Diaz. They opened with a welcoming for those who had gathered and a statement of the LSU theme for the month: “know your neighbor.”

The convocation kicked off a month of LSU-sponsored campus. From Sept. 15- Oct. 15, Goshen College students can pay tribute and celebrate the many different Hispanic cultures that can be found on campus.

After the initial welcoming, the LSU leaders acknowledged the Hispanic countries that have been affected by recent hurricanes and invited Bob Yoder, campus pastor, to the front to lead a prayer for the victims.

Yoder started with words of prayer for the earth: “It seems that our earth continues to cry out, and so we have opportunity to cry out as well.” Yoder continued, praying for the people impacted by the storms and for those with family members that have been impacted. The prayer was ended with a time of silence.

After the prayer, student senate vice-president and LSU leader Elijah Lora gave a statement on the behalf of a majority of student leaders on the Goshen College campus regarding the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

He stated that the student leaders are “deeply saddened” by the recent events, that Goshen should be a place of inclusion and that the senate will try to make Goshen a better place to live.

“Every student should feel safe, not only on our campus, but in our country,” Lora said.

Following the statement, 3 first-year students performed “Piel Canella” by Eydie Gormé, featuring Lucia Martinez and Lisa Rosado Rivera singing vocals and Simon Hurst on guitar.

After the music was finished, Lora thanked the musicians and introduced a video put together by LSU which focused on breaking stereotypes. Students were asked a variety of questions such as: “How do you break a stereotype?” or “What do you wish people knew about your culture?” or “Belt or chancla?” which led to the sanctuary erupting into laughter.

Elijah then came up again and introduced on-campus counselor, Nancy Rodriguez Lora. In Rodriguez Lora’s message, she spoke on the theme of loving your neighbor. She is from Brooklyn, New York, and while growing up there, she felt like she was able to truly get to know people by doing something as simple as talking to a person on the bus.

When she moved to Goshen, she felt like people just wanted to know things about her, and not actually get to know her. The people of Goshen wanted to learn facts about her, instead of learning who she truly is, according to Rodriguez Lora.  

This was very different from what she felt in Brooklyn, and stated that obtaining data on a person is not truly knowing a person. Rodriguez Lora continued on, saying that data can lead to false assumptions, but if you get to know a person, it will be harder to make that mistake.

She moved on to a story about when she was in high school. She was part of the top 3 percent in her school, but when talking to her librarian about colleges, he told her to not bother applying to top colleges, because she wouldn’t get in. Rodriguez Lora made it clear that the she felt as if the librarian made an assumption about her instead of actually getting to know her and her strengths.

Rodriguez Lora's main point was that if you do not get to know your neighbor, you cannot love them: “Know your neighbor, and then you can tell me you love your neighbor.”

Within the next week, a handful of Hispanic Heritage Month events will take place: on Sept. 29 La Repvblica will perform at the Umble Center at 7pm; on Oct. 2 and 3 there will be a “Life as an Immigrant” workshop, led by Gabriella Tovar, which will focus on what it’s like to be an undocumented person in the United States; on Oct. 3, there will be a town hall which will provide a time for the GC community to engage with the experiences of people of color on campus. Both the workshop and town hall will be for convocation credit.