By Christian Bustos
Latinx Heritage Month, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, is a month-long celebration to recognize each culture and the diverse backgrounds from all parts of Latin America.
Among other events and festivities, EKU’s annual Latinx Street Fair occurred at Powell Plaza, Oct. 5, 2022. The street fair was sponsored by EKU’s Center for Inclusive Excellence and Global Engagement (CIEGE); the Bobby Verdugo and Yoli Ríos Bilingual Peer Mentor and Tutoring Center, also known as “El Centro;” the Division of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Student Life; and the Spanish program in the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology.
“This is one of my favorite events at EKU, and every year, it gets bigger and better,” said Dr. Abbey Poffenberger, professor and chair of the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology and Sociology. The street fair started 12 years ago at the corner of the Powell Student Center. This year, their biggest crowd was able to enjoy the festivities in Powell Plaza. In addition to EKU students, high school students from Shelby County, Franklin County and Model Laboratory School attended.
Model students performed with original poetry readings and songs led by a collaboration with EKU Spanish Professor Manuel Cortes and Model Spanish Teacher Ms. Jeniffer Paxtle-Granjeno.
The purpose of the Latinx Street Fair is to celebrate and express the cultures from all backgrounds of Latin America. The fair provided cultural foods, beverages, games, music, dancing and poster boards to educate the community about the diversity of Latinx cultures throughout the U.S. and Latin America.
“I used to see people that went to Camino Camp and that caught my attention knowing that there is a space for Latinos here at EKU,” said junior Monica Avalos, construction management major from Frankfort, Kentucky. “That’s why I chose EKU.” Camino to Success camp is a hands-on preview of the college experience for incoming freshmen who identify as Latino/a/x and takes place the summer before the fall semester starts.
Criminal justice and social work major Ursula Esteban, a senior from Lexington, Kentucky, was also at the street fair and wants to advocate for Latino students at EKU.
“I have been a part of the Latino Student Association since my freshman year. Now, I tend to be an advocate for the students on campus. I like to join more organizations to be involved and to use my voice for Latino students,” said Esteban.
Dr. Socorro Zaragoza, Spanish professor, is one of the co-founders of the Latinx Street Fair.
“We are a multiethnic, multiracial and multigenerational group. It's really important that we have different stories to tell. Not everybody comes from the same place or has the same heritage or the same history,” said Zaragoza. “We need to tell our stories to deconstruct stereotypes. Sometimes people think that all Latinos or Hispanos come from one background.”
The Latinx population at EKU has doubled since fall 2014, when over 300 students were enrolled. As of fall 2021, over 600 Latinx students are enrolled.
“Latino history is American history,” said Poffenberger. “It is something that we all should learn and appreciate.”