Monday, September 16, 2013

El Mes de la Herencia Latina 2013

My, what a difference a year makes. Just last year at this time, I felt afloat and bewildered in the vast Houston Chican@ landscape. This year, by contrast, though certainly still finding my way and making connections poco a poco I am much more at home in both the Houston and HCC Chican@ culture-scapes as evidenced by my organizing role in Central's Hispanic Heritage Month events.

One significant difference, of course, is that we have now officially launched our Mexican American/Latino Studies program. The courses are off to a strong start, and we're building student and faculty interest. That the program's launch dovetails with Hispanic Heritage Month right at the beginning of the fall semester helps to publicize both the program and our celebration of Latina/o culture. 

First, we already kicked off the month early with Zumba in the Street at Central's club day--it was awesome! Here's just a little taste:

I was definitely gettin' in there and dancing while "working" the Mexican American/Latino Students' Association table. I'm hooked on zumba now; one of the dancers/instructors at Zumba in the Street offers a free weekly zumba lesson that I will definitely be taking advantage of from now on!

Tomorrow, September 17th, we're thrilled to present the musical stylings of Alex Cuba, who's kicking off his US tour at Central! To start the program off, we're also excited to award the Eagle Award to MECA-Houston, marking the first time that an Eagle Award has been given to a Latina/o community organization. MECA does amazing work in Sixth Ward and throughout Houston, really, as it offers arts and music classes and counseling to youth of the Houston community. My older son attended the MECA summer day camp this summer, and he absolutely fell in love with it. Sometimes when he's standing in line or waiting for the bus, I'll catch him practicing his ballet folklorico moves from the summer.

Later in the month, we're hosting a unique panel of "Houston's Finest," Latina/o first responders who have documented their experiences in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction formats. The panel will feature Houston poet and police officer, Sarah Cortez as well as Hipolito Acosta, who has written about his experiences in the INS, border patrol, and the Department of Homeland Security in his new book Shadow Catcher: A U.S. Agent Infiltrates Mexico's Deadly Crime Cartels, and recently-published novelist, Chris Hernandez, a 19-year police officer and 24-year veteran of the Marine Reserve and Army National Guard. I think this panel offers great opportunities for our students, but I'm more eager to hear what each of these speakers thinks of our program in Mexican American/Latino Studies and, perhaps, about MAS programs in general.

We may have other events in the works for later in the semester, but currently our last event is one that I'm really excited about. We've partnered with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to take a tour of their exhibit of José Guadalupe Posada's calaveras prints and participate in a papel picado activity! Special thanks to the folks at MFAH, who really went out of their way to make this event possible.

I'll end here with an image from last year's HH post, when the fam and I only found one local event, a small celebration at the Houston Public Library. Doy gracias a tod@s aqui en Houston quienes me han ayudada y apoyada. ¡Adelante!