Sept. 15 marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month — a celebration of Latinx culture and, in San Luis Obispo, students and community members join to commemorate this month.

Ethnic studies professor Jose Navarro said this month-long celebration aligns with many of the national independence dates of countries in Latin America like Mexico, Chile, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

“It’s important for Cal Poly students to learn about Latinx heritage and history because Latinas/os are now the largest non-white ethnic group in the United States and because they are now the largest demographic of the state of California,” Navarro wrote in an email to Mustang News. “The future of the state of California is increasingly going to rely on the successes and failures of the Latinx community in the state.”

Journalism sophomore Xiomara Lopez participates in the SLO Colibrí Community Project (SLOCCP) whose mission is to “celebrate the Latinx community by representing [their] voices, challenges and diversity through art,” according to their website. 

Lopez said Hispanic Heritage Month is important to her because it reminds her how and why to celebrate her heritage. 

“It’s a part of who I am,” Lopez said.

Lopez said Hispanic Heritage Month also gives her an opportunity to learn more about Latinx cultures within the broad and diverse Latinx community.

She said the exposure is important for Cal Poly students to encourage unity among the San Luis Obispo community and give them an opportunity to learn about new cultures. 

“It’s a chance to view and uplift those in the Hispanic community and to overall celebrate the diverse backgrounds within the community,” Lopez said. 

SLOCCP had to cancel their in-person downtown event due to COVID-19 concerns. However, the organization’s members still plan on spreading informative content and resources via social media. 

Organizations like Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA) and Lumina Alliance also set up booths to distribute information and resources.

Until Oct. 15, Cuesta College is hosting a series of events for the public. These include resource fairs, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) updates and student and teacher panels featuring topics from education to citizenship. 

On Sept. 15, Cuesta College held a mental health resource fair in association with Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Andrea Echeverri is a bilingual program specialist at Cuesta College’s Health Center who helped host this fair to connect Hispanic students with inclusive mental health resources on campus and in the community. 

“During Hispanic Heritage [Month], Cuesta has been working to provide a variety of workshops and activities trying to connect students and their families with background on what it means to be Hispanic in the United States,” Echeverri said. 

Echeverri said mental health is especially stigmatized in the Hispanic community — leaving students to suffer in silence. 

“Our Hispanic community faces unique institutional and systemic barriers that can impede access to mental health services due to lack of information, fear of communicating in a different language and low interest in seeking help,” Echeverri said in a Zoom chat with Mustang News. 

Echeverri said this inclusive event attracted many students, and the online resources are still available for both Cuesta and Cal Poly students. 

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