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Festival Latino kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month


By Colleen Sikorski



Orange and yellow streamers twisted through the stair railing, and Spanish pop music played as La Casa Latino Cultural Center and Latino Enhancement Cooperative kicked off Festival Latino, a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, on Friday.

“We tried ... to get a broader diversity from everywhere, to welcome everyone,” said senior Prisma Lopez-Marin, who serves on Latino Enhancement Cooperative’s board.
Guests munched on rice and beans and stuffed hot tortillas with fajita ingredients while mingling in La Casa’s backyard.

Several booths, including cultural sororities and fraternities, the IU Office of Overseas Study and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, dotted the yard. Volunteers gave out information and chatted with guests.

Jackiee Carbery, a health and wellness educator at IU Health Center, tried to keep posters and fliers from blowing away as she stood behind the IU Health Center’s outreach table.

Carbery said the health center often does outreach events at on-campus culture centers but tries to push health issues that are important to the entire student population.

“All of the issues we treat at the health center affect everybody,” Carbery said. “And I don’t think people realize that.”

Several fliers about smoking and quitting tobacco use sat on the table, part of the health center’s push to promote tobacco cessation and nicotine replacement due to the statewide smoking ban that began in July.

“We don’t want to go, ‘Oh yeah, just white people smoke,’” Carbery said.

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan spoke to guests before the city’s Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs presented awards.

“I want you to consider Bloomington your home,” Kruzan told the students in the audience.

He wished the students luck for the new school year and talked about how he fell in love with Bloomington as an IU student.

The commission and the city, Kruzan said, “want people to feel welcome, to feel safe, to feel they are a full participant in the community.”

The Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs gave, among other community awards, a Latino Leader Award to Lopez-Marin. Nominators called her a “dreamer and a doer”.

“I do everything that I do because I’m very proud of anyone that’s here who’s Latino trying to graduate,” Lopez-Marin said.

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