FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith will kickoff its month-long celebration of Hispanic and Latinx Heritage with a slate of events running from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

According to a university press release, the events include a kick-off event for all ages at the Fort Smith Public Library, salsa dancing under the Bell Tower, a Spanish-language university recruitment event, and a public open forum discussion. All will be hosted by the university’s Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee and each will feature snacks, foods, and drinks that celebrate Hispanic culture in addition to planned activities.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for everyone to learn about people who may look differently or speak differently than themselves. It’s a chance to learn about Hispanic culture, to meet in the middle, talk, and enjoy good food and good laughter,” said Cristina Castorena, a professional advisor with the R.O.A.R. First-Year Advising Center, “It’s important that the students who identify as Hispanic or identify with Latin culture feel included and celebrated, and at UAFS, that’s the honest truth. And beyond celebrating our students and employees, Hispanic Heritage Month is also about exposing people who don’t identify as Hispanic to our culture and welcoming them into conversations.”

In addition to events, UAFS says it will celebrate Hispanic Heritage visually with flags lining the Smith Pendergraft Campus Center and displays in the Boreham Library. The university will also highlight Hispanic students, faculty, staff, and alumni on its social media pages through day-in-the-life takeovers throughout the month.

The full slate of events includes:

  • Chisme in the Breezeway – September 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Campus Center Breezeway
  • Hispanic Heritage Month Kick-off – September 15 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
    Fort Smith Public Library – Main Library
  • Cafecito y Pan Dulce: Coffee, Culture, and Conversation – September 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Campus Center Fireplace
  • Sí Se Puede en UAFS: Yes We Can at UAFS – September 29 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
    Campus Center Reynolds Room
  • Second-Annual Salsa at the Bell Tower – October 6 from 6:30-9 p.m.
    UAFS Bell Tower
  • Breaking Generational Stereotypes: Learning More About the Hispanic Student Perspective (A Student Open Forum) – October 13 from 12:15-1:30 p.m.
    Windgate Theater

“This goes for any every type of community, but particularly Hispanic students can sometimes feel excluded, so It’s important that we bring people together so they can enjoy their time, but also know that they are a part of something bigger,” Castorena said.