El Grito launches Latino Heritage Month celebrations at NIU

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Bridgette Fox

NIU students are participating in festivities for Latino American Heritage Month. (Bridgette Fox | Northern Star)

By Bridgette Fox, Copy Editor

DeKALB – Co-ed Latino fraternity Alpha Psi Lambda kicked off Latino Heritage Month with El Grito on Thursday, the annual event to celebrate pride and independence among Latino Americans. Latino Heritage Month takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

El Grito was sponsored by the Latino Resource Center and the Office of Undocumented Student Support. The Latino Alumni Council were also present to show their support.

The event, which has been held on campus for over 20 years, featured a new addition to the festivities – a parade of students, alumni and faculty marching through campus with flags of various Latin American countries.

Festivities included dancing, free food and drinks, musical chairs, bingo and socializing.

Alannis Muñoz, a senior political science major, explained that she was more than happy to attend the event and carry a Chilean flag.

“I’m the daughter of Chilean immigrants, and I love my culture,” Muñoz said. “I appreciate the parade very much, and I’m really grateful for the food and inclusion of diversity we can get from the LRC.”

Sandy López, director of Undocumented Student Support and Alpha Psi Lambda adviser, said that she was excited to see so many students attending.

“The reason why it (Latino Heritage Month) spans a month is because we celebrate multiple countries’ independence days throughout Latin America,” López said. “Our students are honoring their culture, their ancestors, their language, their food, their music – everything – in this event.”

López went on to explain why Latin American students need this sort of event.

“Our students are constantly having to advocate for themselves. I think as students of color on campuses, sometimes there are inequities,” López said. “I’m part of Academic Diversity Equity and Inclusion, so we have a lot of great work we’ve done to minimize those equity gaps, but from time to time, our students have to advocate for themselves.”

López also offered attendees assistance for voter registration in light of upcoming elections.

Alpha Psi Lambda President and Alumni Chair Alondra Calixto, a senior majoring in operational management and informational systems, spoke personally about what El Grito means to her.

“To me, it probably means, like, being able to be here,” Calixto said. “If it weren’t for my parents being Mexican, I don’t think I would be here. A lot of hard-working students, they all wanna be here because everybody wants to get a degree, everybody is here to make their parents proud, I’m assuming. I’m guessing a lot of students here are first-generation (students) like myself.”

Ashley del Real, a 2018 NIU alumna, was ready to support Alpha Psi Lambda – and she knew when to show up.

“I knew it (El Grito) was gonna be Thursday, unless they canceled it, so, I kinda just knew to come out,” del Real said. “As alumni, we wanna come and support, and it’s the things that we did in undergrad that we know we needed help with. Like, the little things – I brought the rope for the piñata. I’m here to be present and to, kind of, share in what we wanna celebrate this year.”

Events and activities for Latino Heritage Month will be continuing all throughout September and early October. Find out about more events to attend on NIU’s event calendar.