By Sean Savage
Historically, America has been a melting pot of all different cultures in pursuit of the American Dream. Thomas Jefferson once wrote: “All men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
How can the Springfield College community carry out what is set in stone?
The mission for Springfield College is to educate the whole person in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others. This means making for an inclusive environment where everyone feels like themselves, and at home.
Through this week, the Springfield College community took another step in the right direction.
The community came together this week to commemorate, honor and celebrate Latinx Heritage Month under the theme of belonging.
“People should try to understand that [Latinx Heritage Month] is more than just one culture,” said Latinx Student Organization E-Board member Yireliz Valentin. “I feel like a lot of people who do not identify as Latinx do not realize that every place is different in its own way. Many stereotypes within society just are not true. We all have our differences.”
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The week kicked off with an event called “Belonging is an Illusion” led by speaker Delmarina López, the first Afro-Latina Puerto Rican and first person of color to serve on the Chicopee City Council. She gave insight on building an inclusive community through her personal experience as a Latina.
“The goal is not trying to belong. The goal is to try to find a community because you can create a community that helps shield you and helps bring you along,” López said. “Find a community where you can be yourself even if it is a form of escapism.”
Events such as themed trivia, film festivals, and “Lunch and Learn” helped bring the community closer. Additionally, these events helped educate and inform on various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
“At the end of the day, everything is achieved by coming together,” López added. A stronger community will be built by coming together, and everyone will feel at home. Relating to the motto: “Springfield College is home.”
The week here at Springfield helps bring notice to what everyone offers when building a sense of community. Cohering in a plethora of events helps people recognize what others bring but also helps build a safe space for people with different ethnic backgrounds.
The week is meant for individuals to depart from their comfort zones and accept some additional but temporary discomfort. In doing so, people will become more confident as it opens the gateway to realizing others could be so sympathetic.
“Through this week, there are a lot of events being held. A common theme between all of them is to educate the students about our culture and some of our traditions. This helps make for a more inclusive and welcoming environment,” Valentin said.
“If you ever feel unincluded or as if it is a constant battle, just know it will not break you,” López said. “God has a plan on where you are going to go.”
“If other people can do it [finding a sense of belonging] tell yourself I can as well. Think about how you are setting up future generations,” López added.
Latinx Heritage Month celebrations impact not only the current students, but future generations to come at Springfield College as well. Everything that is being done now will ensure a campus culture that supports each other.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College