BOISE — Boise State University hosted “Fiesta de Independencia,” or a celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day, to kick off of Hispanic Heritage Month, on Monday.

The kickoff was put on by BSU’s Multicultural Student Services and aimed to celebrate students with Hispanic heritage on campus.

“We want students who have Hispanic heritage to know that they are valued, that they are seen, that their culture is celebrated on this campus and that their rich history is valued,” said Francisco Salinas, director of Student Diversity and Inclusion.

Monday’s celebration included music from DJ Lobo, performances from Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo Idaho and Vice Squiwly Bones, to celebrate Mexican Independence Day.

On Sept. 16, 1810, Mexico began its War of Independence from Spain. The day celebrates when Miguel Hidalgo, a priest and one of Mexico’s leaders during the War of Independence, made the cry of independence from Spain in the town of Dolores, in the north-central part of Guanajuato. His cry is known as El Grito de Dolores.

Hispanic Heritage month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 because the month encompasses the Independence Day celebrations of several Latin American countries and Día de la Raza, or Day of the Race, on Oct. 12.

At BSU, Salinas said he wants the month and celebrations to help people “expand their understanding of what it means to be Hispanic and what Hispanics have contributed to the world.”

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“We want students from Hispanic heritage to understand the opportunities they have around them,” he said.

Rebecca Rivera and Kevin Vasquez, both BSU students, stood at their booth for the the College Assistance Migrant Program during the celebration. CAMP helps migratory or seasonal farmworkers, or children of such workers, enroll in their first year of undergraduate studies at Boise State University.

Rivera, 21, is a junior at BSU, studying bilingual education. She said without CAMP, she would not be where she is today. She and Vasquez, 19, a sophomore, were at the celebration to help educate students about CAMP who may have siblings or relatives who qualify.

Both were enjoying the celebration as well.

Rivera said she believes celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at BSU is important because “it makes you feel like you are noticed, not excluded, and you are at home.”

“It is Boise State recognizing that there are Hispanic students here,” Vasquez said, and including “them at a time to celebrate their heritage and their race.”

On Tuesday, the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs will host a Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff at the Idaho State Capitol.

Rachel Spacek is the Latino Affairs reporter for the Idaho Press. You can reach her at rspacek@idahopress.com. Follow her on twitter @RachelSpacek.

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