By Myra Saturen
September 13, 2012
As part of Northampton Community College's (NCC) observance of Hispanic Heritage Celebration Month, members of the College's Hispanic Caucus held a flag-raising event on September 13 in the Quad.
"Hispanic Heritage Month is important because it marks the recognition of Latinos and Hispanics throughout the United States and the World," said Virginia Gonzalez, chair of the Hispanic Caucus and professor of counseling.
Teresa Donate, professor of counseling, read a proclamation issued by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett that embraced the National Hispanic Heritage Theme "Diversity United, Building America's Future Today" and recognized the Latino/Hispanic community's values of "deep and abiding faith, love for family and strong work ethic, the community's traditions and contributions to The Commonwealth through business and industry, government, education, the sciences, arts and faith," helping make our country great. The proclamation designated September 15 - October 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Mark Erickson, the new president of NCC, said that the College's diversity and deep caring about diversity were among the factors attracting him to the position. "Get to know people who come from different backgrounds than you do," he said. "This will enrich you beyond what you can imagine and prepare you for the world in many ways."
James Von Schilling, professor of English, explained the symbolism of the Hispanic flag: three purple crosses, for the three ships Christopher Columbus and his crew sailed across the Atlantic from Castille, Spain; the color purple for Castille; and the sun for the indigenous people Columbus encountered in the New World when the Spanish crew arrived in 1492. The flag represents Hispanics from Spain, the Philippines, the Caribbean, South America, and North America.
He spoke about the controversy engendered by Spain's arrival in the New World, coming as conquerors, with disastrous results for Native Americans. "But that was not the end of the story," he said. "If it had been, we would not be celebrating today. But in the years and centuries since then, more people from Spain have arrived in the New World, mixing their culture with those of the indigenous people and the Africans brought here as slaves."
Members of the Hispanic American Cultural Club raised the Hispanic flag at half-mast, in honor of the victims of the attack in Benghazi, Libya.
The audience listened and danced to meringue, salsa and bachata music performed by Jesus Daniel and his band. Attendees also enjoyed rice and beans, empanadas, and other Latino treats.
Several representatives of NCC clubs offered tables of information.
The Hispanic Caucus was founded on September 22, 1992, at a time when the College had few Latinos. The Hispanic Caucus give Latino employees a way to be together, support each other and focus on Hispanic issues. The group was started to discuss the needs of students, effective programming and policy concerns within the College. Other purposes are to facilitate the exchange of information about research findings and generate and advance ideas on new services and programs to benefit Latino students. Caucus members also strive to enhance career development by discussing the impact of culture on effectiveness, and providing a forum for Latinos in which they can support and aid one another.
The caucus awards Blanca Smith scholarships, presents cultural events that expose audiences to Latino culture, advocates practices to help students, and holds Bien Venida, an orientation program for local high school students.
Since the Hispanic Caucus was founded twenty years ago, the number of Hispanic students at NCC has risen from 240 to about 2,000. During the flag-raising ceremony, Von Schilling noted that these students take active roles in student government, leadership, sports, clubs, the honors program, and the honor society. "I like to think of them as a secret strength of the College," he said
Some future events planned by the NCC Hispanic Caucus include:
Inti-Illumani, the performance of a Chilean musical group in varied Latin styles. In conjunction with Lafayette College. October 1, 7:00 p.m., Lipkin Theatre, Kopecek Hall. Admission is free, but a non-perishable food item to Second Harvest would be appreciated.
An Hour with Javier Avila. The poet, novelist and NCC associate professor of English will read from his work and discuss writing. November 12, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m., Monroe Campus; November 13, 11:00 a.m. - noon, Main Campus, David A. Reed Community Room, Room 220.
The Road to Northampton and a quinceañera are being planned for the spring semester.
A Hispanic American Cultural Celebration will be held in the Community Room of the Monroe Campus on Thursday, September 20, from noon to 2 p.m.
To review Northampton Community College's guidelines for public comments, click here