Luther College Celebrates El Grito

On Wednesday, September 21, Luther College kicked off the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with “El Grito”––a day full of food, music, and education. The event started with Chapel on Bentdahl Commons, followed by authentic Latinx cuisine in the dining hall, along with Lily’s Taco Truck and a local bakery from Postville, Iowa. Throughout the day, free educational films played, covering a variety of topics surrounding Latinx culture.

The weekend of celebration was sponsored by the Center for Intercultural Engagement.  Assistant Director of the Center for Intercultural Engagement Felecia Delong believed that it was important for the campus community to celebrate this month.

“The planning for this event was a little bit of a crazy story,” Delong said. “I took over my position in June, and typically I would have liked a group of both students and other staff members, but I felt that campus really needed to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month in any way possible, so I did what I could on my own.”

The music and food created a festive atmosphere. Wednesday morning Chapel featured hymns originally translated from Spanish. The papers passed out to participants had both translations printed, and Director of College Ministries and College Pastor Melissa Bills invited students and faculty alike to sing in whatever language felt most comfortable. 

A large body of students gathered during the service in support of their friends, who read poems and spoke about the struggles many Latinx students face at Luther and around the world. Salomé Santillán (‘23) was one of those students, and really enjoyed the experience.

“I think I really like the visibility of today,” Santillán  said. “Sometimes Latino students think we are just a small group here on campus, but with today we really feel that we belong.”

As the eve of Mexican Independence Day, El Grito is a day of inclusion, unity, cultural expression, and a celebration of diversity. Many students and staff have already begun planning for future events. Many students and staff have already begun planning future events that offer more food, more cultural inclusion, and more celebration of being a Luther student of Hispanic Heritage. President of Latinos Unidos, Evelyn Montoya (‘23), helped to bring this event to campus and hopes that it expands even more next year.

“For next year, I would love to see a campus wide event,” Montoya  said. “But also to hear from students in the form of a panel or Q&A, because listening to those voices that so often are overlooked is what this time is all about.”

 The celebration of El Grito at Luther College was a special day for all who attended. For many students,  El Grito brought a sense of home and inclusivity onto campus.