WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Sept. 15, 2022 — West Liberty University observes Hispanic Heritage Month now through Oct. 15, as part of its Campus and Community Diversity Committee and Office of DEI outreach.
“We are pleased to recognize the influence of our Latino/Hispanic communities and our Spanish speaking friends,” said Dr. Felipe Rojas, associate professor of Spanish in WLU’s Department of Humanities.
Events kick off with the Department of English and Modern Languages hosting a trivia lunch at noon, on Monday Sept. 19 in the Union Ballroom.
“We invite both students, staff and faculty to come participate, learn about Hispanic culture and have fun! There will be prizes and some light snacks too,” Rojas said.
Hispanic and Latino people make up nearly 1 in 5 of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census numbers.
Rojas teaches Spanish to all level students and oversees the Spanish minor offered in WLU’s degree programs. He created an informative and colorful display case in the busy lower floor corridor of Elbin Library where classrooms and faculty offices are housed.
“Every day of the month I will be unveiling an important Hispanic fact for both the English and Spanish-speaking world,” he said.
Also taking place throughout the month will be virtual presentations featuring addresses by Latino scholars, beginning with WLU’s own Dr. Monique Akassi, Special Assistant to the President for DEI and Strategic Initiatives at noon, Sept. 20. All virtual noontime presentations will take place in the Boyle Center. Additional dates, speakers and topics include:
- Sept. 22, Professor Tia Javier of Randolph Macon College, “Celebration of Afro Latinos during the International Decade for People of African Descent.”
- Sept. 27, Dr. Clement Akassi of Howard University, “How African-Hispanic and Afro-Latinx are Decolonizing Imaginaries and Identities after Enslavement and Colonization.”
- Sept. 29, Afro Latino Film Discussion, “Blacks in Latin America,” written and presented by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Later in the month, on Sept. 30, the Bear’s Den (cafeteria) will invite the campus community to a Spanish/Hispanic lunch featuring special recipes from some of our international students and faculty to enjoy.
WLU’s Elbin Library is participating in the month-long observation by offering an appropriate book display that highlights Spanish and Hispanic literature.
The library and WLU’s Center for Arts and Education also will receive a visit from West Liberty Elementary students on Thursday, Oct. 6 as WLU students will assist as Dr. Rojas and Lou Karas, director of the Center for Arts and Education, read Puerto Rican myth stories and play some authentic Hispanic children’s games.
Begun nationally in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson, it was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period and enacted into law in 1988.
The date of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30-day period.
WLU has many international students from Spanish speaking countries Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela, according to Mia Szabo, Director of International Enrollment and Student Services.
The Campus and Community Diversity Committee meets throughout the academic year and is chaired by both Rojas and WLU’s Director of the Learning and Student Development Center Chris McPherson.
It is moderated by Dr. Monique L. Akassi. For more information on WLU’s DEI programs, please visit westliberty.edu/diversity or email email@example.com.