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CARBONDALE - Southern Illinois University Carbondale will celebrate Latino Heritage Month in coming weeks with guest speakers, dancing, workshops, films, food and entertainment.

Events begin with a picnic from noon to 4 p.m. today in the Free Forum Area north of McAndrew Stadium. There will be free food, fun and entertainment.

"Latino Heritage Month honors and brings greater awareness of one of the many diverse cultures that comprises the community of cultures that is SIUC," said Carl Ervin, coordinator of Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services. "It is a wonderful opportunity to learn about cultures, enhance cultural competencies, reduce ethnocentrism and add to both the knowledge gained and fun had during the fall semester."

"Embracing the Fierce Urgency of Now" is the theme for the 2009 Latino Heritage Month. Most events are free and open to the public.

Among the highlights is a visit Wednesday by Oscar A. Herrera. A native of Mexico City, he speaks five languages, has studied cultures extensively and owns Herrera Computer Solutions, a business he started at the age of 17.

A graduate of Governor's State University with a bachelor's degree in computer engineering and computer science, he was the recipient of several scholarships and served there as president of the Association of Latin American Students when the organization's membership grew more than 300 percent. He also is a popular motivational speaker.

"It is a month dedicated to awareness, appreciation and opportunity to better experience the past and present of Latino heritage," said Jazmin Rios, a social work major from Cicero serving as community service chairperson for Sigma Lambda Gamma.

For more information, contact Student Development Multicultural Programs and Services at 618/453-5714 or go to www.stddev.siu.edu.

- SIUC University Communications

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