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Faces of Jesuit: Hispanic Heritage Month

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! This month is celebrated from September 15-October 15 and recognizes people with Latino/Latina/Latinx/Hispanic heritage and people who identify with countries where people speak Spanish.

The timing of this month-long celebration acknowledges the anniversary of independence for several Spanish-speaking countries. On September 15, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica celebrate their anniversary of independence. Mexico celebrates its anniversary of independence on September 16, and Chile on September 18.

Latino/Latina/Latinx/Hispanic people share not a race, but a cultural heritage and ethnicity. Someone who belongs to this ethnic group can be of any race or nationality and may or may not speak Spanish.

This month, we celebrate Jesuit students who identify as Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx/Mexican American. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office spoke with five student leaders involved in Latino Student Union to understand their perspective on identity and Hispanic Heritage Month. These current juniors and seniors emphasized that there is not one term alone to best describe their identities. Using a mixture of the terms Hispanic, Latino/a/x, and Mexican American gives a nod to their nationality, gender, familial geographic roots, and language abilities. They proudly acknowledged their identity is significantly impacted by their immigrant roots, knowing how much their families have struggled, recognizing the challenges they had to overcome.

Melanie '22 describes being first generation as the feeling of wanting to succeed, wanting to show her family that their struggles had value. Brayan '23 expressed that the time home with family during the pandemic was impactful because it gave him the opportunity to learn more about his parents, family history, and their culture.

These Jesuit leaders also expressed the need for Hispanic Heritage month as an avenue to shine a spotlight on their values, culture, language, and history. Sara '22 describes this month-long celebration as a way to counteract the negative stereotypes and rhetoric in politics and the media. Angel '22 calls Hispanic Heritage Month a tool to remember cultural roots, accomplishments in the Hispanic community, and dream of a better future.

In the Jesuit community, approximately 80 current students identify as Hispanic/Latina/o/x. Angelina '22 desires to share her culture with her fellow Jesuit classmates, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month, because these students do not make up the dominant culture.

Want to learn more about Hispanic, Latino/a/x culture? Student leaders encourage you to get involved in Latino Student Union (LSU) - no need to identify as Hispanic Latino/a/x or speak Spanish. More information can be found on the LSU Instagram: @lsujesuitpdx.

Our LSU leaders embolden the Jesuit community to be thoughtful about different perspectives and remain curious about Hispanic culture - not just this month, but throughout the year!