Hispanic Heritage Month activities to celebrate and honor the Latinx community

Latinos Unidos student group to share culture, heritage and experiences; speaker scheduled Oct. 6
UW-Stout students, with Latinos Unidos adviser Vickie Sanchez, make piñatas prior to COVID-19.
September 15, 2021

University of Wisconsin-Stout’s student organization Latinos Unidos will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a series of events including speaker La Espiritista, a poet, author and performer who is a trans, nonbinary and genderfluid mixed Latinx with heritages from Peru and Cuba.

La Espiritista, who uses the pronouns they and lives in Seattle, is the co-founder of Share the Spirit, a small healing arts business that helps individuals clear limiting beliefs, heal energetic wounds and open creative channels. They are the author of “Butterfly: Una Transformacion,” a collection of poetry that speaks about the process of inner transformation through four phases of metamorphosis: release, renewal, retreat and rebirth.

La Espiritista, which means “the spiritualist” in Spanish, will speak from 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6, in ballrooms A and B of the Memorial Student Center. The event is open and free to everyone. They will honor ancestors and lives passed on as well as celebrate and beckon people to explore the complexities of their identities and heritages.

La Espiritista
La Espiritista / Photo courtesy Latinos Unidos

Latinos Unidosgoal is to promote and educate about Latinx/Hispanic culture through the planning of educational speakers, discussions and events and activities. It’s an inclusive organization open to everyone on campus.

Hispanic Heritage Month events are planned from Tuesday, Sept. 21, to Saturday, Oct. 30. The events are open to everyone to learn and celebrate Latinx heritage.

Latinos Unidos President Zoe Cornwell, a senior majoring in entertainment design animation, said La Espiritista will bring the perspective of growing up in a Catholic household and tell their story of overcoming prejudice and spiritual transformation.

“We have been coordinating with the Qube,” said Cornwell, noting the Qube is UW-Stout’s LGBTQIA+ resource and hub. “We have been trying to get them for a while now.”

The speaker is also sponsored by the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office; women, gender and sexuality studies; Multicultural Student Services, Involvement Center, University Housing and Stout Student Association.

La Espiritista, who is also known as Goddexx, came into their first evolution of queerness at 14 and thought they could no longer be spiritual.

“My shame caused me to demonize myself and I began to drink, developed a vicious eating disorder and fell into various cycles of self-sabotage until my mid-late 20s,” they wrote. “My first experience with embarking on my medical transition to affirm my gender is the moment I began to reclaim my spirit. I remembered that I could be spiritually wise and sexually liberated. That I could feel desire and harness my expression as magic. That I could encompass the expansiveness of all my identities and be divinity embodied — a Goddexx."

Cornwell, of Sheboygan, said the month of activities helps celebrate a period of time when many Latinx countries gained their independence.

Teaching heritage

“Our heritage is important to us,” said Cornwell, who is of Mexican descent. “It’s great to be able to share our heritage with people. It’s a good way to teach people while they are having fun at an event.”

Zoe Cornwell
Zoe Cornwell / Photo courtesy Zoe Cornwell

Vickie Sanchez, Latinos Unidos adviser and student services coordinator in Multicultural Student Services, said Hispanic Heritage Month is important to recognize and make known the culture’s history, contributions and achievements.

“It is unfortunate that there are narratives to history that are excluded and become unheard,” Sanchez said. “Hispanic Heritage Month gives an opportunity to honor those voices and grow in understanding of a cultural group different from our own or perhaps even one that we share.”

Other planned events include:

  • Hispanic Heritage Kahoot and prizes, 6 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, Willow and Walnut rooms, MSC
  • Piñata-making, 6 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 28, Willow and Walnut rooms, MSC
  • Piñata painting, 6 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 5, Willow and Walnut rooms, MSC
  • Movie and sugar skull-making, 6 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 12, Willow and Walnut rooms, MSC
  • Loteria and prizes with the Involvement Center, 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 30, Terrace, MSC

To learn more about individual events and to register, go here.

“Piñata-making and painting make great craft nights,” Cornwell said. “We will talk about how pinatas are used and their origins, which are actually about the seven deadly sins.”

Stimulating conversation, sharing history

Sugar skulls are tied into the Day of the Dead and represent a departed soul and to honor them. They are decorated with feathers, colored beads, foils and icing to celebrate the lives of the deceased.

Students make sugar skulls at an event on campus before COVID-19. / Photo courtesy Latinos Unidos

“The folk art activities such as piñata- and sugar skull-making stimulate conversations in the community as well as help us learn of their historical significance,” Sanchez said. “Cultural competency goes deeper when you build relationships, in tangent with building awareness through events, articles and art.”

In a related community event, the Dunn County Historical Society’s Rassbach Museum will host “Immigrant Journeys from South of the Border ¡Mi travesia hasta Wisconsin! from Friday, Oct. 1, to Friday, Oct. 15. Stories of people who traveled thousands of miles to make Wisconsin their home are told in this traveling exhibit from the Wisconsin Humanities Council. Eight individuals who emigrated from Mexico, Uruguay, Honduras and Colombia are featured.

 The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 715-232-8685 or visit www.dunnhistory.org for more information. 

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