KISSIMMEE – Johnson University Florida faculty, staff, and students have worked together to engage the campus in National Hispanic Heritage Month between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15.
Through bicultural chapels, a night on the lawn, and other upcoming activities, the JUFL Student Government Association and chapel team have been organizing with Latinx staff and students in order to share their cultures with the campus community.
JUFL is the home of students and staff of various Latinx cultures, including Guatemalan, Puerto Rican, Brazilian, Venezuelan, Columbian and Cuban.
In chapel, worship songs, Scripture reading, and prayer have been in English and Spanish. An upcoming SGA event is “Noche de Juego” [Game Night] Oct. 15, during which students can share Hispanic desserts and board or card games.
Events in the planning stages are a cultural field trip to a local Latino ice cream parlor and a maraca craft session.
Latino Community Liaison and Admissions Office Manager, Mindy Marengo-Sardinas, has worked with the JUFL SGA and chapel teams to organize activities for the month.
“It’s nice to see the engagement of students, the flexibility of students, their willingness to try new things and to experience new things,” Marengo-Sardinas said. “I see students engaged and asking questions and wanting to participate.”
Sophomore and daughter of Guatemalan parents, Debbie Mejia did not grow up practicing Mexican traditions that were shared during the night on the lawn. She said she likes the little things that Johnson is doing.
“I like [that chapel is trying to sing more in Spanish],” Mejia said. “I really appreciate them doing that, even if it is one month out of the year. It feels very welcoming.”
Sophomore Haley Canary said she has enjoyed singing in Spanish at chapel and is planning to attend “Noche de Juego.”
“Where I’m from I have a few Hispanic friends, and I’ve played [Hispanic games] with them before, so I’m really excited to see a whole lot more,” Canary said. “I love Hispanic culture and I think it’s so interesting.”
Marengo-Sardinas, herself Puerto-Rican, said that her vision is to see people united and inclusive.
“The way I look at it is another opportunity for my brothers and sisters to see who we are and just get a glimpse that there might not be not be as many differences as we think that there are,” Marengo-Sardinas said.
Amidst all the activities that are happening, Marengo-Sardinas will continue to see a board that she and several students put together in her office area. It reads: “BEFORE GOD WE ARE ALL UNA FAMILIA”.
“It doesn’t matter where we are from or what we look like or what our flags look like or the language that we speak,” Marengo-Sardinas said. “He’s the one that unites. Christ died for all of us.”
Further events will be announced during SGA events and through resident email announcements.