Campus wide, Diversity

Hispanic heritage celebrated on and off campus

By Makena Griffis | October 9, 2021
Latin American dancers at CSU’s 2019 Culture Fest. Photo by Richard Esposito

Echoed throughout the campus of Charleston Southern University and North Charleston’s cultural core, Feliz Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana resonates within citizens. Celebrated from September 15 to October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month serves as the reminder that maintaining one’s culture, specific values, and heritage traditions are the significant factors that keep the United States of America the epitome of a melting pot. 

Through National Hispanic Heritage Month, 60.48 million Hispanic Americans are celebrated as generational innovation, achievements, and true champions continue to surface. At a local level, North Charleston held a One Accord Art Exhibition on September 18 showcasing the cultural art pieces of local students who continue to pave the way for future successes as young souls. Particularly, the event held at PATCH Career Institute, was the sole reminder that adolescent and cultural artwork alludes to Hispanic and American cultural roots. CSU students Daniela Figueroa, Valentina Nanez, and Nancy Segovia were honored for their given achievements in embracing one’s cultural background through creative imagination, emotional expressions, and conceptual ideas. 

A native of Colombia, South America, Estevan Quiceno-Gaitan only learned of Hispanic Heritage Month recently as it is not celebrated in his home country. “It means a lot to me. It makes me happy that this is a thing here in America,” Quiceno-Gaitan said. “It makes me feel appreciated—my culture and other Hispanic cultures. It gives the sense that we are equal and that our culture is respected. I have always appreciated the effort that people make to learn about other cultures and this is what Hispanic Heritage Month is for, to give all of us the opportunity to learn about other cultures and appreciate all our differences.” 

Celebrating for the first time, Quiceno-Gaitan, a freshman biochemistry major, plans to attend the Latin Festival with the Spanish Club. Held at Wannamaker Park close to campus, the annual event will be held from noon to 5 p.m.

“I see this as an opportunity to share about my culture and celebrate this important month with other people that are interested in learning,” Quiceno-Gaitan explained, adding that three words he would use to describe Hispanic Heritage Month are appreciation, respect, culture. “It is very important to celebrate all our differences and show respect to one another and what better way than this.” 

Freshman kinesiology major Valentina Nanez said that she enjoys participating in the Latin Festival with her family—especially the different foods of the Hispanic culture. “It is important because it is the time to celebrate and honor every Hispanic person that is in America. For those who were born in America and have Hispanic ancestry, or for those who were born in other countries and grew up in America,” she said. “For me this is a very important celebration—it makes me feel part of the United States of America and to keep following my dreams.” 

Daniela Figueroa, a freshman pre-nursing student at CSU, said Hispanic Heritage Month reminds her of family, culture, and the power of love. “For me, the moment I left my country three years ago is a point to remember the people and things that I left in my country, and that I carry in my heart every day. My family and I have always tried to keep our traditions present, to feel more at home, and Feliz Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana is another reason to be able to unite as a family together with other people from different countries.”

She explained ways they do just that. “In my church we have Latin nights, and the fact of sharing music and food and anecdotes makes us feel at home. We try to take a part of our roots wherever we are, not just for this month. I believe that this type of celebration and meeting between different cultures leaves a mark on people’s lives. I would like people to go beyond what they know and learn other cultures and languages, to know other places. I feel that it would be an improvement to human quality, when we get to know where the people around us come from and what their history is.”

In close proximity to Charleston Southern University’s campus, local restaurants such as: Rincon Dominicano, Centro Americano, Deli Sabor Hispano, and Cachita’s Kitchen are all serving up the traditional ingredients to resemble a deliciosa cena para celebrar el mes de la herencia hispana. The campus community can enjoy traditional dishes this month and throughout the year.

CSU’s Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Clarisse Garcia, will host a virtual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration (Passcode: 033937) conversation on October 13 at 2:30 p.m. Through Garcia’s wealth of anecdotal and realistic experience, students are welcome to discuss the importance of culture. A question-and-answer session will follow Garcia’s discussion on her cultural heritage. 

Though Hispanic Heritage Month will end in mid-October, the livelihood and vitality of honoring Hispanic America surfaces throughout campus and the surrounding community year-round. Students may join clubs and organizations such as the Spanish Club or International Club to continue learning more about many different cultures and backgrounds represented at CSU.


Makena Griffis is a freshman nursing major at Charleston Southern University and a Brand Ambassador for the Marketing & Communication office.


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