Mississippi University for Women will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with “Cacao and Chocolate: A Powerful Legacy,” a two-day event centering on Hispanic culture and cuisine.

“Events like ‘Cacao and Chocolate: A Powerful Legacy’ offer exceptional educational opportunities that go beyond traditional classrooms. For example, a team of interdisciplinary students has passionately delved into the theme, showcasing their research skills, creativity and sense of discovery,” said Dr. Reyna Vergara, assistant professor of Spanish and co-director of the event.

The interdisciplinary students will showcase what they discovered in their research Thursday, Sept. 21 from noon-1:30 p.m. in the demonstration kitchen of the Culinary Arts Institute. There also will be a chocolate tasting at the event.

Booklets featuring stories, messages and recipes from those involved with the event will be handed out to attendees.

Later in the day, from 6-7 p.m., the presentation “Transforming Traditional Feminine Spaces in El Eterno femenino, (in italics) ‘La muñeca menor,’ and Como agua para chocolate (in italics)” will take place. It will be held in Nissan Auditorium in Parkinson Hall in conjunction with the Fall Forum Series hosted by the Gordy Honors College.

“Cacao and Chocolate” will conclude with a cultural discussion and question and answer forum Friday, Sept. 22 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. in the northwest lobby of Fant Memorial Library led by Dr. Cecy Brooks, assistant professor of psychology and family studies.

“I believe interdisciplinary events like this foster collaboration between departments and subjects, like Spanish and biology, which helps with communication and building a stronger campus community. I also believe that it supports the goals of the liberal arts while helping students see that subjects that seem unrelated can actually be combined to create excellent learning experiences. It is also important to bring minority cultures to the forefront of our campus thoughts. We may even be able to reach a point where Hispanic students will seek out The W,” said Michael Dodson, science instructor and co-director of the event.

The entirety of “Cacao and Chocolate” is free and open to the public.

The event also allowed for an opportunity to reach outside of campus and partner with a nonprofit, El Centro. It is a Tupelo-based organization that, according to its website, “helps Hispanics and Northeast Mississippi residents integrate into the local community.”
Visit https://www.elcentrotupelo.org/ for more information.

It is the hope of the organizers that partnerships like this one will help expand Hispanic heritage events in the future and perhaps even change them to better fit the goal of inclusion.

“For the future, I’d like to explore further whether we should continue to align ourselves with the national Hispanic Heritage Month or adopt what might feel like a more inclusive name that has the potential of better reflecting our community’s identity,” Vergara said.

In addition to the three events, there will be an accompanying display set up in Fant Memorial Library the entirety of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15). It also will feature information about El Centro for anyone who is interested but was unable to attend one of the events.

“My hope is that we can recruit and serve more of the Hispanic/Latinx community creating an even more diverse campus. I believe diversity brings strength. Since we are working with El Centro, I hope that we can expand our ability to partner with this organization and possibly use their example in Columbus to help K-12 Hispanic students in the Golden Triangle,” Dodson said.

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This project was made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication) (program) (exhibition) (website) do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Mississippi Humanities Council.

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,339 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

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