When OWU’s Kamila Goldin ’13, president of VIVA, the Latin American culture group, describes its raison d’être, she radiates enthusiasm. Part of that organization’s mission is to heighten awareness and understanding of Latin American cultures and issues for members of the OWU community. And when VIVA members spent the noon hour on Monday talking with students about Hispanic Heritage Month, it seemed, says Goldin, “that lots of people came up to us and wanted to know more.” Through most of October, VIVA, Horizons International, and Citizens of the World House are co-sponsoring an array of campus programs and a luncheon to celebrate Latin American culture and heritage, and to explore the theme of Latin American Identity—from both American and Latin American perspectives.
A sample of the October schedule includes:
- Lecture and discussion co-sponsored by VIVA and Witness for Peace, featuring immigration rights advocate from Mexico, Jaqueline Garcia, who will speak at noon on October 17 in the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center’s Benes A room.
- Hispanic Heritage Month campus-wide luncheon co-sponsored by VIVA, Horizons International, and Citizens of the World House. The menu will feature Latin American cuisine and a program including a short student-created documentary on Latin American Identity at Ohio Wesleyan, information about relevant campus organizations, and music.
- “Dia de los Muertos” celebration is scheduled for November 2 at noon in the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center’s atrium. Translated as “Day of the Dead,” it is a time each year to remember, celebrate, and honor the lives of those relatives and friends who have passed away. An altar will be set up in the campus center for those who want to place photographs and other remembrances of loved ones.
Goldin, who shares leadership of VIVA with her co-vice presidents, Hazel Barrera ’14 and Hayley Winslow ’14, likes the multipurpose nature of the organization; the sense of community, family, and determination among members to talk about issues concerning both Latin American and U.S. culture; and the opportunity each member has to educate and reach out to the campus and surrounding community.
“Immigration is always a contentious subject and we all need to learn more about it,” says Goldin, also pointing out that “immigration is a theme in the life of anyone connected to Latin America. But everyone has a story to tell about how they arrived here. Ours is a country of immigrants.”
As she describes her own background—daughter of Argentine parents in whose home she was raised to speak English and Spanish—Goldin says she had never identified herself as a Latin American woman.
“Who is Latino and what role does the color of our skin play in our identity,” she ponders, along with others. Those questions, along with myriad others about important issues impacting the lives of so many people, will be discussed and debated in coming weeks on OWU’s campus.
“My hope is that VIVA can be more visible and involved in Delaware, and that the Latino portions of people’s identities can be brought forward and celebrated,” says Goldin. And, as Barrera adds, an organization such as VIVA also is important for raising awareness of just how diverse OWU is.