Continuing the Conversation in Celebration of Latinx Heritage Month

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IES Abroad
October 29, 2021

This year, we’ve been dedicated to celebrating Latinx Heritage Month through enriching conversations with our students—past and present! Enjoy this look back at all the ways we celebrated and amplified the voices of our students and colleagues of Latinx Heritage.

Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month with Our Staff

In a recent organization-wide meeting, a few of our staff spoke to global colleagues about what this month means to them:

Hernando Sevilla-Garcia headshot

“My biggest honor, without a doubt, has been to launch an initiative in Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs)…and what this means to me is that, as the fasting-growing institutional type in the United States enrolling the fastest-growing demographic in the United States, I believe that the future of Latinx Heritage Month is increased support to these HSIs from the federal level to not-for-profits like us to individuals, because these institutions have only been around since 1992 and they truly deserve and need our support.
- Hernando Sevilla-Garcia, Assistant Director for Special Initiatives – Diversity Recruiting & Advising

Martha Ponce headshot

"I think about all the Hispanic students who we have served over the years and sent abroad, and it brings so much joy to know that doors will be open for these students, and that they in turn will open doors in unexpected ways! I hope they will continue in a long line of this growing population of Hispanic and Latinx-ers who continue to contribute in positive ways towards a better and just world."
- Martha Ponce, Senior College Relations Manager

DREAMers Abroad: DACA, Identity, and Study Abroad

Sergio Rodriguez Camarena headshot

Ashley Simmons, IES Abroad Granada alum and Brand Coordinator, joined in conversation with our 2016 Ambassador of the Year and IES Abroad Freiburg - European Union alum, Sergio Rodriguez Camarena. Sergio, a DACA Recipient, recalls his study abroad experience while illuminating the nuances of a DACA student's journey. Sergio’s story engages with intersectional identity, politics, liberation, and the power of creating oneself amidst the vastness of study abroad opportunities.

Sergio speaks on various facets of identity and how study abroad allowed him to create a counter-narrative as a “DACA-mented” individual, challenging the norm of what “home” and “families” are. Sergio's journey allowed him to globalize himself and his identity, while also learning more about the world and paving the way for his career. He remarks on the way that the risks taken abroad help define life's trajectory, contributing to the overall story in a way that makes it one entirely worthwhile.  

Sergio shares, “Being DACA-mented, and not just being DACA-mented, but being first-generation, and low-income, navigating this whole thing…that in and of itself is going against the norm…there are a lot of things that study abroad does and it gives you the opportunity to challenge the norm.”

Voices from Abroad: A Student Conversation Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month

Our IDEA Correspondents illustrate their respective stories and experiences in a round-table discussion led by Hernando Sevilla-Garcia. These Correspondents logged in from their study abroad locations to elevate their voices and inspire future students.

Each conversation presented dynamic questions to focus on ways to uplift and motivate the diversity within Latinx culture and tradition. Within the dialogues created by each, the staunch devotion of IES Abroad students and alum alike becomes apparent as they demonstrate the focus and power of their global influence through their study abroad journeys. Our Correspondents are writing and re-writing stories in real time to become more inclusive, more authentic, and more enriching for stories yet to be told. 

Chelsea Nunez-Peralta headshot

One IDEA Correspodent, Chelsea Nunez-Peralta, Penn State University and IES Abroad London student, remarks on the way misconceptions and misrepresentations within the Latinx experience in the chat:

“The biggest misconception or misrepresentation of our community is that we’re all similar and are all the same. We all have very different experiences, and all grew up in very different households. Latinos may share a language but also have different foods, different dialects, we have different traditions that are all so beautiful and I think when people hear the word “latino” they just think of one monolithic community, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is so much to celebrate, so much to highlight, so much diversity within our community. I’m really happy to engage in that and uplift that further.”

José González headshot

Alumni Spotlight - José González

Our Advancement team spoke with alum José González (IES Abroad Vienna 1972-73 | Santa Clara University) whose time studying abroad with us in Austria shaped his life and career tremendously. During his time abroad, José saw his first theatre performance—a Shakespeare production in Stratford-upon-Avon, which was life-changing. Studying abroad in Vienna and traveling throughout Western Europe and the Middle East (to as far as Kabul, Afghanistan!) inspired Jose’s passion for theatre. Read more about how José went on to found his own theater with a focus on providing Latino theatre, culture, and arts education experiences.

DIA-logues Events

In a recent organization-wide meeting, a few of our staff spoke to global colleagues about what this month means to them.

"Does Hispanic Heritage Month Need a Rebrand?" (September 2021)

With topics associated with Latinx Heritage Month in mind, IES Abroad staff joined together for our monthly DIA-logues (Diversity, Inclusion & Antiracism dialogues), conversation with colleagues.


The first conversation centered around the diversity within Latinx heritage, cultural backgrounds, and more. While exploring the various dilemmas of describing Latinx groups, questions were asked to provoke further discussion and encourage community. A summer 2021 New York Times OpEd piece, "Does Hispanic Heritage Month Need a Rebrand," explores the debate over what this influential population calls itself, and the desire among some to commemorate the month that celebrates their heritage with renewed authenticity. 


"Dear Homeland" (October 2021)

For this second DIA-logues conversation, IES Abroad staff made time and space to explore the lived experience of one such former student in viewing a documentary about Diana Gameros. The 2021 documentary film Dear Homeland follows the journey of the Mexican singer/songwriter. Though Diana arrived in Michigan legally as an international college student, she becomes undocumented and stuck in limbo unable to visit her family in Ciudad Juarez for fear she will not be able to re-enter the US. 

This film and conversation make room to elaborate on the complexity of the Latinx experience while lending towards growth and deeper understanding.

Want to join in on the conversations and see what else we’ve been up to? View our student diversity resources and our diversity commitment in action.

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IES Abroad's Tu Mundo initiative is an integral part of our mission to educate global leaders designed to help more students from established and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) study abroad.

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