Texas Tech students gathered to celebrate El Grito at Urbanovsky Park at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 15. “El Grito” is the cry for independence, which Mexico gained in 1810.
Students waited in line to assemble a plate of authentic Mexican food in the park. Mary Harris, a worker who was handing out food, said she had not quite expected such a large gathering of Tech students.
“We did expect a big turnout, but we didn’t expect quite so many people to get in line for food,” Harris said, “We actually only had enough food for 200 people, and we are well over 200 people.”
For many people, these types of events bring new traditions to life and a new appreciation for the culture of many people.
Near the food tent, there was a group of Hispanic Student Society volunteers making a traditional Mexican craft. According to Alesi Hernandez, a fourth-year construction management major from Odessa, they were making Ojos De Dios (God’s Eye). These wooden crosses with yarn woven in between are made to ward away bad vibes while praying.
Uriel Villegas, a fourth-year member of Hispanic Student Society from Denver City, Texas, reflected on the importance of showcasing Latin heritage.
“I would say is just to inform people that Hispanics are here at Tech and then we also celebrate our culture here,” Villegas said. “The way I experienced it with, like, the U.S. independence and stuff like that, I like both. And I mean, I think it’s pretty cool and I think it’s informative to other people that, like, how we celebrate our Independence Day and how we present our Latin countries and stuff like that.”
The Lubbock High School Baile Folklorio dance team also danced to traditional Mexican folk songs.
For many, this reminded students and faculty of their own culture. Cyanna Moreno, a second-year pre-nursing major from Austin, wants students to engage and appreciate the dancing and food with an open mind.
“I really hope that they learn that, like, this is a really big part of our culture and how we celebrate each other, where our families are from, even if we were born here, we are descendants from these places as well and them learning what we are about and what we really celebrate,” Moreno said. “It’s not just for the aesthetic. I hope people learn that we are really proud of who we are.”
Hispanic students like Anterian Gee viewed this event as a little piece of home and a great way to immerse themselves in activities from Latin countries. Gee, a fourth-year creative media industries student from Dallas, heard about this event from his Hispanic media professor and told him that he would enjoy this celebration.
Gee said he was most excited to see the salsa dancing since he is a part of the Hispanic Student Society and he salsa dances a lot.
“I love seeing different types of salsa dancing from different cultures and different Hispanic cultures as well,” Gee said.
El Grito is one of many events that will be going on during Hispanic Heritage Month. Jade Silva Tovar, senior director of Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said there will be a poster and website with a list of all events published by Sept. 16.
These celebrations are important for students from all over to get a glimpse into the Hispanic culture and for Hispanic students to feel welcome.
“This year’s theme is ‘esperanza,’ embracing and advancing Latinx futures,” Tovar said. “Our hope is that we are able to talk about how we educate folks about the Latinx culture and Hispanic culture and how we embrace who we are and be proud of that, and also how do we advance who we are through career trajectories and other educational opportunities.”