El Grito kicks off Latino Heritage Month celebrations at NIU – Northern Star

Bridgette Fox

NIU students participate in Latin American Heritage Month festivities. (Bridgette Fox | North Star)

FromKALB — Co-ed Latino fraternity Alpha Psi Lambda kicked off Latino Heritage Month on Thursday with El Grito, the annual event to celebrate Latino pride and independence. Latino Heritage Month takes place from September 15 to October 15.

El Grito was sponsored by the Latino Resource Center and the Office of Support for Undocumented Students. The Latino Alumni Council was also present to show their support.

The event, which has been held on campus for more than 20 years, featured a new addition to the festivities – a parade of students, alumni and faculty marching across campus with flags from various countries across America. Latin.

The festivities included dancing, free food and drink, musical chairs, bingo, and get-togethers.

Alannis Muñoz, a political science major, explained that she was more than happy to attend the event and carry a Chilean flag.

“I am the daughter of Chilean immigrants and I love my culture,” Muñoz said. “I’m enjoying the parade very much and I’m really grateful for the food and diversity inclusion that we can get from the LRC.”

Sandy López, director of undocumented student support and Alpha Psi Lambda counselor, said she was pleased to see so many students in attendance.

“The reason it (Latin Heritage Month) spans a month is that we celebrate the independence days of several countries all over Latin America,” López said. “Our students honor their culture, their ancestry, their language, their food, their music – everything – in this event.”

López went on to explain why Latin American students need this type of event.

“Our students constantly have to defend themselves. I think as students of color on campuses there are sometimes inequities,” López said. “I’m part of Academic Diversity Equity and Inclusion, so we’ve got a lot of work we’ve done to minimize those equity gaps, but every once in a while our students have to stand up for themselves.”

López also offered attendees assistance with voter registration in light of the upcoming elections.

Alondra Calixto, president of Alpha Psi Lambda and alumni president, majoring in operational management and information systems, spoke personally about what El Grito means to her.

“To me, that probably means, like, being able to be here,” Calixto said. “If my parents weren’t Mexican, I don’t think I’d be here. Lots of hard working students, they all want to be here because everyone wants to graduate, everyone is there to make their parents proud I guess. I guess a lot of students here are first generation (students) like me.

2018 NIU alumnus Ashley del Real was ready to support Alpha Psi Lambda — and she knew when to step up.

“I knew it (El Grito) was going to be Thursday, unless they canceled it, so I just knew we had to get out,” del Real said. “As alumni, we want to come out and support, and it’s the things we did in undergrad that we know we needed help with. Like, the little things – I brought the rope for the piñata. I’m here to be there and to kind of share what we want to celebrate this year.

Latin Heritage Month events and activities will continue throughout September and early October. Discover more events to attend on NIU’s Events Calendar.