Island Community Comes Together to Enjoy Culture, History, and Cuisine During Hispanic Heritage Month

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – From informative panels and workshops filled with engaging discussions to a full run of an original play about Civil Rights icon Dr. Hector P. Garcia and musical performances, the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi community and the public alike enjoyed nearly two dozen events during Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) 2022.

At the kickoff event, which was held Sept. 15, Islander students, faculty, and staff enjoyed food, stirring addresses from speakers, Latin music, and a performance by Mariachi de Isla. On the menu was pan dulce and fruit; many also visited with local food truck operators and vendors.

Felix Gamino ’25 said the kickoff was a great opportunity to learn more about his culture and discover new insights about his heritage.

“I’ve never had so much pride being Hispanic until I moved here, because I get to represent my culture amongst my friends who are from France and Spain as well as other Latin countries like Argentina or Mexico,” said Gamino, a Spanish major. “It was really nice to represent my nationality because back home, you’re just like everybody else. You get to represent your culture and say I have meaning.”

On Sept. 27, Bell Library hosted an open house where they presented unique and vital collections that were preserved in the library’s Special Collections and Archives. Participants explored the collections of local Hispanic families, which include photos, letters, and keepsakes, to learn about deep South Texas history. Those prominent Hispanic community figures included Dr. Hector P. Garcia and his sister, Dr. Clotilde Garcia, to name a few.

Corpus Christi Caller-Times columnist/archivist Allison Ehrlich was one of the open house visitors. She wrote about the home movies of Antonio Rodriguez Fuentes and his wife, Josefina Barrera Fuentes, which were recorded in the 1920s and ’30s for her weekly column, “Throwback Thursday,” on Sept. 29.

“It’s a fantastic collection – it’s hard to find collections in the city that deal with Hispanic and Mexican American history because a lot of that stuff was just lost over the years and it wasn’t saved,” Ehrlich said.

Award-winning South Texas food blogger Vianney Rodriguez visited the Island University for cooking demonstration on Oct. 6, where she demonstrated a step-by-step showcase of the Mexican dish rajas de poblano con elote y crema (poblano strips with corn and sour cream), for those in the audience.

“When you have food and you sit around a table together, it opens up conversations about how you’re doing and how your day was,” Rodriguez said. “It’s very communal. I feel like people are more relaxed around the table.” 

That same night, Islander students enjoyed Late Night Lotería, a Mexican game like Bingo. Prizes included Squishmallows, Apple AirPods, Alexa devices, and kitchen appliances.

“As someone who holds a lot of pride in my heritage and traditions, it really means a lot that TAMU-CC continues to make this Island feel like a home away from home,” Computer Science major Elizabeth Rubio ‘24 said. “I feel that it has a positive impact on the mental health of the student body.”

On Oct. 11, the Department of Music held its Mariachi and Folklórico Showcase in the Performing Arts Center. The showcase featured an evening full of musical and rhythmic talent by the Mariachi de la Isla and the Alcorta’s Compañía de Danza Folklórica.

“Music is a big part of Hispanic culture, it brings people and families together during events, so it’s nice to have the mariachi here to perform for everyone and help spread that part of Hispanic culture,” said Madizon Gonzalez ’26, an English major who attended the showcase.

HHM coordinator Andrea Montalvo-Hamid, TAMU-CC Assistant Professional Professor of Writing Studies, said she was pleasantly surprised to see an increased number of community members at events.

“We had almost 900 people at the Mariachi and Folklórico Showcase, most of whom were community members,” Montalvo-Hamid said. “We received overwhelmingly positive feedback on all of the events, which leads me to believe this year was extra special. We want everyone – students, faculty, staff, and the community – to feel welcome and learn about Latinx culture, traditions, and histories.”