Western to co-sponsor Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration

CULLOWHEE – The second annual Western North Carolina Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration co-sponsored by Western Carolina University is scheduled for Sept. 16 through Oct. 15, with a variety of activities centered on the theme “Hispanic Americans: Strong and Colorful Threads in the American Fabric.”

The month of free programs will kick off Friday, Sept. 16, with an opening celebration at 7:30 p.m. in the Grandroom of the A.K. Hinds University Center on the Western campus. Patrick Tapia, director of the Latino Advocacy Coalition Center in Hendersonville, will deliver the keynote address.

Musical entertainment and performances of traditional Hispanic dances also are expected to be part of the evening. The opening celebration is co-sponsored by Western’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and Office of International Programs and Services.

Other activities will be held throughout the monthlong celebration at sites in Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. Topics will include Latino contributions and challenges in American society; Latino art and culture; community interaction; and personal stories and histories. A detailed schedule will be available later.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is a way to promote and celebrate friendly awareness and understanding of the Hispanic historical and cultural presence in the United States and in our home counties of Jackson, Macon, Swain and Haywood,” said Patricia Hackett, organizer of the event and visiting assistant professor of Spanish at Western. “We also want to encourage involvement of the Hispanic community in the activities of the counties in which they live, which will help foster greater understanding of the Hispanic people in WNC.”

Hackett, a native of Panama, said the month is designed in part to help shatter myths and stereotypes about Hispanic people. “We are not all field workers,” she said. “We do not all like to eat fajitas and frijoles.”

Organizers are still putting the finishing touches on the month’s schedule of activities, and are seeking volunteers from the community to assist in planning and implementing events. Planning meetings are set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, at the Haywood County Public Library in Waynesville; 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Aug. 24 and 31, in the Hinds University Center at WCU; 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, at Haywood County Public Library; and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, at Hinds University Center.

Other sponsors of Hispanic Heritage Month activities include the Jackson County Multicultural Task Force, Jackson County Family Resource Center, Jackson County Library, Solidaridad Latino Outreach Center of Franklin, COLA – Latino American Coalition from Asheville, Mosaic Multi-Cultural Center of Waynesville, Jackson County Health Department, Manos Latinas women advocacy group of Haywood County, Smoky Mountain Vicariate Roman Catholic Hispanic Ministry, Jackson County Public Schools, Jackson County Arts Council, the town of Sylva, and Western’s Mountain Heritage Center, Fine and Performing Arts Center and department of modern foreign languages.

For more information, call Patricia Hackett at (828) 227-3761.