Courtesy Photo / The Bison
This month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) The United States is observing Latin heritage month.
There are many influential, Latin individuals who are being celebrated this month for what they have achieved both for their culture and for United States of America.
Oklahoma Baptist is fortunate enough to have a large population of international students from Latin cultures all around the world.
“The culture here is really different from Mexico,” said junior graphic design major and Mexico resident Rosa Escalante.
“The food in Mexico for example, tastes a lot more natural than American food. Like the coke is even safer because it’s made with real sugar and not fake stuff.”
Escalante said before her aunt came to the U.S., no one in her family had been here.
“There were nearly 60 million Latinos in the United States in 2017,” according to an article published on Pew Research Center’s website, “Accounting for approximately 18% of the total U.S. population. In 1980, with a population of 14.8 million, Hispanics made up just 6.5% of the total U.S. population.”
According to the same article, between 2000 and 2016 almost 30 million Hispanics have moved to the United States.
“When I first got here it was difficult to understand everyone,” said Escalante.
“Especially if someone has an accent… when I first came here, I didn’t understand anything. Even when my coach talked I just kind of nodded my head and acted like I understood, then copied what everyone else did…in Mexico we begin learning English in middle school…but it was still super hard to understand when I got here and people had different accents.”
According to The United states Census Bureau, as of 2019, Hispanics are the nation’s largest minority.
“If you come here to study or play a sport you will definitely feel homesick at first,” said Escalante. “What really helped me is having other people that spoke Spanish around, which allowed me to express myself better than if I was talking in English…if you are coming to study in the U.S. I would suggest looking for places with a large international student population, because it may help you transition better.”
OBU plans on doing their part, when it comes to celebrating this month for their international or domestic Latino population.
On Sept. 29, Dr. Swadley and Dr. Wilbur will be meeting with any student that either is from a Spanish speaking country, from a family of primarily Spanish speakers or that has strong Latin descent.
There are also multiple ways to celebrate and contribute to this month if individuals are not from Hispanic descent.
The first way to support this month would be to donate to a local non-profit such as United We Dream.
According to ET Mas (a popular entertainment publication for Latin Americans) (a popular entertainment publication for Latin Americans) “Self-described as the largest immigrant youth-led community in the country, United We Dream’s mission is to empower undocumented immigrants.
Through campaigns at the local, state, and federal level, the group fights for justice and dignity for immigrants and all people.”
There are also ways to support the month without having to donate.
One of these ways could be watching the famous documentary, Latino Americans, which is streaming on PBS.
“PBS’s landmark six-hour 2013 documentary, Latino Americans, is an exhaustive look at the history and experiences of Latinos. Giving both a historical overview of Latinos in the U.S. from the 16th century to present day, the documentary series includes interviews with the likes of Rita Moreno, Gloria Estefan, and Dolores Huerta.”