Merengue, empanadas, history and literature — it’s a fiesta. October is Hispanic Heritage Month, and the Spanish and Latino Students’ Association (SALSA) is sharing its Latin flair with the University community for the 40th year.

Since 1970, SALSA has celebrated Hispanic Heritage month with a series of cultural events. Through lectures, music and movies, SALSA celebrates the diverse Latino culture while sharing it with non-Latino students at the same time. Thanks to the support of the University, as well as other cultural groups such as the Black Students’ Union, SALSA was able to draw a particularly diverse crowd to its events this month.

“The New Muslim Cool,” a co-sponsored event with Students for Interfaith Action, UR Hip-Hop and other groups, drew a very diverse crowd. The documentary followed a Muslim Hispanic–American rapper from Pennsylvania and the trials he faced.

For many of SALSA’s members, Dominican Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Diaz’s Meliora talk and workshop at the Interfaith Chapel was the most enjoyable. Aside from drawing the largest crowd of this month’s events, the audience were also delighted to find how accommodating and down-to-earth he was.

“He was more than generous with us,” senior and SALSA President Estefany Angeles said. “He stayed longer than expected for the book signing until everyone had their book signed. He was a pleasure to work with and the audience absolutely loved his thought provoking remarks.”

“I enjoyed speaking to Junot personally and actually finding out how down to earth he really is and just listening to him speak about life in general,” senior Angela Santiago-Zayas added.

But nothing paid off as much as the success of the annual Tropicana Dinner and dance — a culmination of all of SALSA’s hard work. An abundance of Spanish cuisine and soft Latin music set the tone for yet another memorable Tropicana. For novice dancers, they were able to participate in SALSA’s dance workshops weeks prior to the big night.

Hispanic Heritage month certainly isn’t something that can be planned overnight. SALSA’s executive board has been contacting and working out the logistics for the month since April. Their planning helped them avoid any major road bumps.

Angeles hopes that everyone was able to take away something special from Hispanic Heritage Month.

“I hope that non-Hispanic participants can enjoy the richness of Hispanic heritage month,” Angeles said.

“I hope for all students they can take away something they did not know or appreciate before.”

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