Latinx professors talk experiences in Charleston


Katja Benz, Campus Reporter

While there are many activities during Latino Heritage Month aimed for students, there are also professors at Eastern who are in the Latinx community and celebrate the month.

Many people find their experiences and thoughts vital in gaining insight into what the Eastern community can do to better their involvement and learning experiences in the Latinx community.

When it comes to events for LHM, Chemistry Professor David Naistat said that he “would like to see a lot of involvement from students” and that “the community could be doing some outreach.”

One of the ways that students can get involved, according to Naistat is “reaching out… talking to other professors, maybe doing some research.”

Another way that students can get involved is by going to the other events occurring throughout the rest of the month.

Outside of the events, there are also Spanish classes, some of which count towards a student’s general education requirements.

During his classes, Professor Carlos Amaya wants to teach his students “not only to learn how to speak Spanish and understand the culture but also to be responsible citizens who can leave EIU and represent us in any cultural setting.”

The third floor of the Booth Library also has an exhibit on Latin American Heritage Month, which includes the flags of Latin American countries as well as “important people in Hispanic culture” according to Spanish Professor Olivia Lemus.

“The Eastern community needs to know a little more of the Latino culture to reach a better understanding of the history and the contributions to the culture,” Lemus said.

Amaya said that the month’s events would help students experience other cultures.

“Students need to experience how other people express themselves through culture,” Amaya said. “By attending events sponsored by the Latino Heritage Celebration, students can learn a lot about food, festivals, games, and in general how Latino students feel in a rural community like Charleston.”

Biology Professor Eloy Martinez said it is important to “take advantage of any opportunity that any student can have to enrich their life culturally… My suggestion will be to use it.”

Martinez said that students should look outside Charleston for more diversity.

“There’s more, you know, diversity and cultural enrichment beyond the city limits of Charleston,” Martinez said.

Within the Charleston city limits, there are various Mexican restaurants that Lemus recommends that students go to. Some Mexican restaurants in town include Mi Casa Tu Casa, El Rancherito, and Los Potrillos, all of which are on Lincoln Ave.

“Open your mind to other ways of seeing the world by attending cultural events sponsored by the minority groups and the international students on campus,” Amaya said.

One of the ways that students can open their minds is by studying abroad. There are study abroad trips that can last the semester or year, and go to places such as Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Salamanca and Granada, according to the Study Abroad Office’s Website. That is not even every location offered in Latin America or Spain, let alone offered as a whole.

When it comes to traveling, Amaya says that it is important to “go anywhere you want to go but make sure that you learn a lot about that place and try to talk to the local people to have an authentic experience. Any country you visit in Latin America will have a variety of options and you will have fun there.”

Even though Eastern is in a rural area, there are ways that the college community can get involved in learning about the different cultures throughout the university.

Katja Benz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]