PLNU Voices Share What It Means to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Photography of Scott Bennett “Paletero and Virgen de Guadalupe Mural in Chicano Park.” Photo Courtesy of Charis Johnston.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a month-long celebration from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 that recognizes people of Hispanic heritage and invites them to share and commemorate their culture, history and ancestors.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a month of recognizing the struggle and victories of the Hispanic community. The month began on Sept. 15 — the day the Latin American countries Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala gained independence from Spain. 

Point Loma Nazarene University adjunct Spanish professor Mariana Apalategui said “Hispanic Heritage Month is all year” in her Spanish class.

“I believe that language and culture are connected, so in my class, my students go to events such as a Cuba event that recently happened, or even just going to Northgate Market to practice their Spanish and interact with the Hispanic community,” Apalategui said. “Currently, my students are learning about cultural celebrations in the Hispanic community such as Quinceanera’s and Día De Los Muertos.”

She states that this is the reason she chose to teach Spanish: to invite her students to learn about her culture and to interact with her community. Apalategui also brings Hispanic-style food to her class to invite students to try different spices and flavors that are traditional in the Hispanic community. 

Around campus, there are a couple of events being put on by the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS).

Fourth-year political science major and president of ALAS Jessica Hernandez said via an email interview that the first event for ALAS was on Sept. 12 in the MOSAIC (Multicultural Opportunities for Students Actively Involved in Community) lounge on PLNU’s campus. 

In an interview before the event, Hernandez said “This will be our first event of the semester with different food that represents Latin culture hope that this event will welcome people as the food might remind them of home, creating an environment that provides a ‘home away from home.’” 

The second event that ALAS will be hosting is on Sept. 30, which involves taking the trolley to Old Town, Taco El Gordo, Chicano Park and Barrio Logan.

“This will be a time of community-building, as well as an educational opportunity, as we will learn about the significance of Chicano Park,” Hernandez said. 

The MOSAIC lounge serves as a hangout spot for students looking to meet peers with similar cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Other MOSAIC-affiliated clubs and organizations also offer educational opportunities for students to learn about different cultural backgrounds.

Another event for Hispanic Heritage Month, will be held off campus at the Luxe Gallery in downtown San Diego from Sept. 16 through Oct. 20. This event is an opportunity to see local artists from San Diego and Tijuana show their connection with Hispanic culture and realities. 

PLNU Spanish Professor Scott Bennett will be exhibiting two of his photographs in this upcoming exhibition. His main focus is Chicano Park. 

“The photo I chose for that represents the spirit of Chicano Park. It shows the identity and spirit of car culture in one of the photos. It shows everyday life. Part of that culture is the paletero going around,” Scott said. 

Scott said his encouragement for students as they go into Hispanic Heritage Month and the exhibition itself is to not be afraid to try something new or see something new and instead come ready to experience the culture and lifestyle of the Hispanic community in San Diego.
For more information, follow ALAS on Instagram @mosaicalas