Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Celebrating and painting Latinx culture at “Hues of Heritage” event

SGA office hosts an interactive painting event “Hues of Heritage” to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

On Tuesday, Sept. 19, in the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association office, the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS), and the Latinx Heritage Month Planning Committee hosted an interactive painting event called “Hues of Heritage.”

When students entered the SGA office, they were given one of two quotes to interpret. The first quote: “Your individuality is important, but so is belonging. Recognize the parts of your culture that have shaped your past, and the parts you want to carry with you into the future,” by

Sol Peralta, an audience engagement manager at Jopwell, a diversity hiring startup.

The second quote: “Little details that tell the world we are not invisible,” by Abuela Claudia from the movie In the Heights, portrayed by Olga Merediz, an actress of Cuban descent.

Students were then encouraged to display their paintings in the SGA office throughout Latinx Heritage Month.

Daily Collegian (2023) (Kalina Kornacki)

Tanyi Muanya, a senior political science and journalism major and the secretary of diversity for the SGA, was one of the main organizers of this event.

“I think it’s very important to highlight groups that aren’t as highlighted in a PWI [predominantly white institution]… and everyone loves a painting event, so this is a great way to get people from all over campus to connect and to just have fun,” Muanya said. “The paintings should be whatever inspires them from these quotes.”

Priya Betts, a freshman animal science major saw an ad for the event online and was motivated to come out and paint. Betts was given the Peralta quote to interpret into a painting.

When asked what this quote meant to her, Betts said, “It means embracing who you are as a person, but also embracing your past because it is so much a part of your individuality.”

Betts was inspired to paint a rainy day with people holding similarly colored umbrellas, but having one person stand out from the crowd, representing the viewer’s individuality.

As Betts began painting, Chancellor Javier Reyes made a surprise appearance at the event.

Daily Collegian (2023)

“I think this event shows that not only we have many students that have this Hispanic heritage, but if you look around the room we also have students who are championing that heritage and want to understand the culture. That’s the beauty of this event, it’s not just for Hispanics but it’s an opportunity for people to understand Hispanic heritage,” Reyes said.

He then expressed his hopes for future cultural events at UMass. “To me, these events should expand that sense of community. It is not that we just want Hispanics celebrating their culture, but we want everyone to understand and to celebrate that culture.”

Wilma Crespo, director of CMASS, credited Tanyi Muanya for bearing the brunt of organizing and planning the event. She emphasized that events like these aim to help students connect with their past and heritage. “You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re starting from.”

Alejandra Salva-Martorell, a junior art history major of Puerto Rican descent, painted a former version of the Puerto Rican flag. “Puerto Ricans are very prideful, we are very proud of where we come from, our history, our language and we choose to demonstrate that in one of the most obvious ways possible, the flag,” she said.

Salve pointed out she chose a lighter shade of blue for the Puerto Rican flag which holds strong symbolic value: “The lighter blue corresponds to an older version of the flag that came before the current one…the lighter blue was changed by the United States to match the American flag blue. In that way, it is a constant reminder that Puerto Rico is still a colony.”

When finished, students were given the option to bring their painting home or display them in the SGA office. Students are encouraged to check out other events during Latinx American Heritage Month at UMass on the CMASS website.

Crespo recommended signing up for the Baleadas Cooking Demo at Worcester

Dining Common on Sunday, Sept. 24.

Sam Cavalheiro can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @SamCavalheiro1

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