Bethel celebrates Hispanic Heritage month

October 8, 2013 | 11 a.m.

News | Michael Urch

Sept. 15 marks the Independence Days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Since 1989, it also is the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month. This 30-day celebration brings to light the Hispanic people that have become a very large part of the U.S.

“The Hispanic population will more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060. Consequently, by the end of the period, nearly one in three U.S. residents would be Hispanic, up from about one in six today,” according to 2012 U.S. census bureau projections.

Perhaps the business department is most aware of this demographic change, and the impact it may have on its students.

“Hispanics have become a rapidly growing population in the U.S…. which part of the Hispanic market are you going to target?” said professor Rudy Cardona to his marketing class.

Hispanic Heritage month centers around a growing population which will continue to have a presence within the U.S. culture. In Hennepin County alone, there was a 32,000-person increase in the Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010. That is 8 times the 4,000-person increase in non-Hispanic population.

“It is really important that people understand that there are major demographic shifts happening globally and in American culture,” said professor Ruben Rivera.

The Hispanic culture that continues to grow across the U.S. is also active on Bethel’s campus. Voz Latin@ is a student- led group under the umbrella of United Cultures of Bethel (UCB) within Bethel Student Association (BSA), which is meant to be a support and resource for Latinas/Latinos at Bethel and those interested in Latino culture.

“Right now we are building relationships within the group. What we hope to do is create more awareness for students of color on campus,” said Michelle Tellez, student director of Voz Latin@. “We want to create the kind of community where if you are having a hard time or want to get to know your roots a little bit better, we can talk about that.”

In addition, the group gets together for other activities. “We will go to some professor’s houses for Hispanic food and dinner and fellowship with a lot of other people,” said Tellez.

Voz Latin@ had an event on Sept. 24, where a documentary about Hispanic life was viewed. The event concluded with a question and answer time. These discussion events are hosted every month by UCB, and they offer the opportunity to interact with diverse cultures on campus.

“I want to encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and learn about other cultures. Everything that UCB does is a campus-wide event and people don’t always know that,” said Tellez.

“I think what Voz Latin@ is trying to do is to help people achieve relationships. In the achievement of those relationships: Black, Latino, White, Asian—you name it. People begin to see things differently,” Rivera said.

“Hispanic Heritage month is not a politically correct thing. It is another opportunity that can be taken advantage of to truly understand another people who are increasingly important in our culture,” he added.

There are some very clear shifts happening in the American population, and this can bring out several responses.

“To me as a Christian, I have to keep asking myself, ‘what opportunity do we have here?’” said Rivera.

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