The World of Hispanic Heritage

Professor Ivelisse Rodriguez, Co-Chair of the Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Executive Committee, delivered welcome remarks at the month-long celebration’s Opening Ceremony in BMCC’s Theatre I, and Co-Chair Professor Rosario Torres, hosted the event.

“I hope you have your soles ready to do some dancing,” said Dr. Torres, introducing the first of several songs by Lamar NYC, a musical group that “draws on the spirit of flamenco and world music.”

The band—featuring Amanda Ruzza on a baby-blue bass guitar; lead singer Nilko Andreas on acoustic guitar; Alex Terrier on saxophone and Reid Andres on percussion instruments including ankle shells and the cajon (Spanish for “box”)—punctuated the program of guest speakers, which began with BMCC VP for Legal Affairs, Robert Diaz.

The month-long events, said VP Diaz, who also served as Executive Director of the Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Executive Committee, “cover the spectrum, from Caribbean to African to Spanish” cultures.

Guest speaker and BMCC alumni Giovanni Ortiz received a warm welcome from Professor Torres, who noted that he grew up in the South Bronx and “is a real Nuyorican.” Oritz, who recently earned a B.A. in Creative Writing at Lehman College and is about to publish his first book, a memoir, told the students in the audience, “I was in your shoes not too long ago. I went back to school after 22 years.”

In Spanish, and then in English, he presented the Latino Hero Award to Dr. Gladys Cifuentes, who has served since 2011 as Consul General of Colombia in New York City—the first woman to hold that position. The award, Professor Torres translated from Dr. Cifuentes’ speech, “is a symbol of connection between CUNY and Colombia, and represents education for all immigrant students.”

Business Administration major Whitnney Dihmes also spoke, describing her experience growing up in the Dominican Republic and coming to New York to attend BMCC.

“Education is the thing we will carry with us for the rest of our lives,” she said, and decried the portrayal of Dominicans in the media, saying, “I want to change that.” Professor Carmen Martinez-Lopez closed the event.

For more information on this month’s Hispanic Heritage events, which include panel discussions, poetry readings, movie screenings and exhibits, click here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Executive Committee also includes Dr. Racquel Goodison, Treasurer. The artwork featured in this article’s homepage blurb is by Marcelo De Stefano, part of an exhibit at BMCC’s main campus, 199 Chambers Street, opening November 7 at 6 p.m.