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Weber State University’s Center for Diversity and Unity hosted a fiesta in honor of National Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month. The fiesta featured students from around the world who spoke about their countries of origin and also offered food and games for attendees.
Presenters included Laura Natalia Munoz, originally from Colombia; Madahi Mejia, of Guatemala; and Abelardo Saucedo, who moved to Utah from Mexico. Each presentation included facts about the individual countries and how they differed from each other. The presenters also worked to clear up common misconceptions they’d noticed students having about their countries of origin.
“By participating in the panel, my hope is to be able to open other people’s minds to show that although we are Hispanic, it does not mean that we are all from the same country or have the same culture and traditions,” said Munoz, a WSU health administration major. “We may share the language and certain similarities, but overall, we all come from different places with different backgrounds.”
Saucedo, a WSU accounting major, said he wanted to help other students understand there are many positive things about his home country of Mexico.
“I think most of you listen to the news, so you know a lot of the negative things,” he said.
Saucedo provided a large number of economic and social statistics and projections for the country and clarified the Mexican government.
Mejia spoke of the beauty and diversity of Guatemala.
“It’s a country with many traditions and lots of ethnicities,” Mejia said. “I miss the food, the music, (how) everyone says hi on the streets and everyone cheers each other. I miss that.”
Celebrations and traditions chair Lonnie Martinez emphasized that there are a variety of Hispanic and Latino countries and cultures that many students don’t often think about.
“(The event) is kicking off the National Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month . . . especially here in Utah, we all are under the impression that if (a person) looks or speaks Spanish, then they’re from Mexico,” Martinez said. “But in reality, there are a lot of different (Hispanic) cultures.”
He said he wanted students to leave the fiesta with a better understanding of the variety of Hispanic cultures and without as many misconceptions.
“It’s kind of like a quick little trip from South America,” he said.
Marissa Questereit, a WSU sophomore, said she agreed that the event reached its intended goal.
“I learned a lot about cultures I didn’t know anything about,” she said.
She said she felt the event helped her to better understand Hispanic cultures and connect with those who are different from her.
Diversity vice president Lola Moli said she feels that students who participate in events from the Center of Diversity and Unity will have a greater appreciation for the diversity on campus.
“I can promise that if you come to an event held by the Center for Diversity and Unity, you will walk away learning something new and gain an understanding of how important diversity is to Weber State,” Moli said. “I hope that students will walk away having learned something that they didn’t know and share it with others.”