Inclusiveness and Further Understanding

Latinx Heritage Month events continue


Several Latinx Heritage Months events were hosted by PennWest.

Hannah Williams, Staff Writer

PennWest California is honoring Latinx Heritage Month by organizing a series of events designed to inform students about Hispanic culture and encourage creativity in the process.

Hosted by the Cal U Art Club, Cal U Catholic, and the Hispanic Student Association, this week’s event consisted of a showing of the film “The Official Story,” along with a variety of crafts including beading and painting.

According to the official website, National Hispanic American Heritage Month, which spans from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, celebrates the many ways Hispanic Americans have influenced and enhanced American culture today.

The film, “The Official Story,” is a fictionalized rendition of actual events that occurred in Argentina throughout the dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla, beginning in 1976. The goal of this event was to simultaneously educate students about the history of Argentina, while also teaching them about traditional craft-making.

Andrea Vergnaud, born in Colombia and current president of the Hispanic Student Association, stressed how important inclusivity and acceptance are for her and her fellow HSA club members who have not always received the same treatment.

“We never want people to feel like you have to be Hispanic to do any of these activities,” Vergnaud she said. “So, our biggest driving force is educating, but also including.”

Vergnaud further explained that her strong belief in equality and inclusiveness comes from having experienced a lack thereof herself. She spoke of her family’s arrival in the U.S. shortly after 9/11 and the mistreatment and misconceptions that she and her family faced as a result.

“That’s where we come from.” Vergnaud said. We need to move forward. It’s been 20 years.”

Vergnaud is determined to provide a place for students of all ages, races, and backgrounds to be able to go and feel comfortable.

“We just want people to feel welcome,” Vergnaud said. “No matter what your racial background, your involvement in the school, you have a place that you can talk to people and not feel left out.”

Meghan Larsen-Reidy, a campus minister at PennWest California who currently oversees Cal U Catholic, chose to step out of her realm of expertise and host this event alongside the campus’ Art Club and the HSA. She explained that this decision came about partially due to the substantial amount of students the clubs share.

“A number of our Catholic students are involved in the Hispanic Student Association,” Larsen-Reidy said. “One of the goals that we have as a group is just to better collaborate with the different organizations that our students are involved in.”

Larsen-Reidy said they want to support students and where their passions lie.

Larsen-Reidy expressed a similar point of view on the importance of having an accepting and all-inclusive environment on campus.

“We really try to create a welcoming and loving community,” Larsen-Reidy said.

Larsen-Reidy said they want people to bring their authentic selves, their whole selves, to everything that they do, and for many students at Cal that means that they need to bring these cultural events as well, because that deeply formed who they are.

“I think if we want to encourage people to be their authentic selves, we have to recognize that that means embracing their cultural backgrounds as well,” Larsen-Reidy said.

Cal U Catholic holds Catholic Mass on Sundays at 10 a.m. and will be leading a prayer service on Nov. 1 in honor of the Day of the Dead.