By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
The sounds and smells of Hispanic music and foods filled the Chestnut Room in Kilcawley Center on the Youngstown State University campus, allowing members of the community a chance to immerse themselves in Hispanic culture for an afternoon.
Part of YSU’s Hispanic Heritage Month, Saturday’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration was titled Sin Fronteras: Uniendo Nuestra Culturas, which translates to “Without Boundaries: Connecting Our Cultures.”
Denise Gillispie of Warren brought her 6-year-old daughter, Morgan, to the event.
“We came because [Morgan] has been interested in Spanish since she was 4, as a language,” Gillispie said. “And I just saw the opportunity to come and learn more about the culture, be exposed to it, hopefully hear some more Spanish in the real world and just let her grow in it.”
Morgan does not learn Spanish in school, so Gillispie has found ways for her to do so.
“We just wanted to learn about it so we can speak two languages,” Morgan said.
The pair checked out the activities in the children’s corner at the event. Morgan found several books in Spanish that she’s already familiar with, including Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” She recognized a Spanish word she knows: heuvos, which means eggs. She also had the chance to pet a chinchilla from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
Events such as this are important, Gillispie said.
“I think it makes us more well-rounded,” she said. “I think the more you know, the better off you are. Our culture is growing and changing, and we need to grow and change with it.”
Morgan said the event was fun, and she learned more about the Hispanic culture.
Members of the YSU Latino Student Organization were on hand to help out with the celebration and to raise awareness of the organization itself.
The event brings awareness that there’s a large Hispanic community in the area, said Melissa Irizarry, president of the student organization.
“And we’re able to get together and share our differences and our diversities and learn from one another, whether you’re Hispanic or not,” she added.
The event itself is beautiful, she said.
“There are dancers, there’s music, there’s food; it’s really nice,” Irizarry said. “And everyone’s getting together, and everyone’s learning something.”
Also featured at the event were vendors, information tables, ethnic refreshments, artistic displays, a scholarship presentation and dance and music performances.