Hispanic Heritage month for 2018 began on Sept. 15 and will run until Oct. 15. On the Goshen College campus, numerous events are planned and have already happened to celebrate the rich and diverse backgrounds of the Latinx community.

The Latino Student Union (LSU) kicked off the month with their first meeting/picture day on Sept. 14, when students took photographs representing their countries and discussed how to get involved with upcoming events. Sept. 23 marked the day of the LSU World Cup Soccer Tournament, an event that was open to the campus.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 26, the LSU led a convocation in which four students and two faculty shared “More than just…” stories. These personal stories highlighted individuality and gave examples of ways in which those of Hispanic heritage are more than just what other people may traditionally believe they are. Speakers discussed the significance of things such as representation, language and family in their experiences.

“I am more than just a Latina,” said Dali Rodriguez, a sophomore, in her speech. “In fact, I am much more than just a Puerto Rican. I am a fighter. I am a dreamer. I am a believer, a nerd, an intelligent individual, a protector. I am a student. I could be a lawyer, a doctor, a nurse, a mathematician, an actress, a musician, an interpreter, an artist, an athlete, an engineer, an accountant. I am a person.”

David Maldonado, an outreach pastor at College Mennonite Church, served as the main speaker of the morning, sharing his own interpretation of what it means to be “More than just…”.

Maldonado spoke of the importance of the terms “we” and “they,” as exemplified by a poem written by Rudyard Kipling. He explained the potential danger of categorization of people and misuse of language. Maldonado stressed the importance of respect and called upon audience members to work to change the rhetoric in this society.

The convocation also featured three short student performances, including a concluding dance led by Lisa Rosado Rivera that even the president joined in for.

“Wednesday’s convo was amazing,” said Lourdes Resendiz, junior and co-leader of LSU. “We were able to share and celebrate our cultures with each other. It truly felt like a celebration with lots of meaning.”

Hispanic Heritage Month takes the time to recognize and celebrate not only the cultures of Hispanic people, but also their contributions on this campus and beyond. Currently, students of Hispanic heritage constitute approximately 22 percent of the campus community according to the GC Factbook, making them the second-largest ethnic group on campus.

“Latino Heritage Month is a time dedicated to celebrating Latino culture and to remember where we come from as a whole,” said Josh Garcia, junior and co-leader of LSU. “Even though we celebrate our individuality, our Latino culture is at the core of our hearts and it’s important to reflect where our roots originated from.”

LSU has several upcoming events that are open to everyone. Currently in the works is a rice competition, which will feature numerous homemade rice recipes from a number of cultures, and a community service day, details of which are still being determined. LSU is also looking ahead at planning the second annual Dancing with the Professors.

“People should look forward to a fun month of celebration and learning experiences,” Resendiz said.