Hispanic Heritage Month: Maeyelyn Acevedo Santiago
Maeyelyn Acevedo Santiago is a secondary education major with a specialization in Spanish from Hazleton and of Puerto Rican descent. In addition, she’s an honors student and peer mentor who is active with the Program Board as its travel and trivia coordinator and a member of the Student Organization of Latinos.
“As a Latina living in the United States, everything about my culture makes me proud to be Boricua,” Acevedo Santiago says. “Whether it’s some good empanadillas, the music, carrying the Puerto Rican flag everywhere, and learning more about Puerto Rico’s history makes me proud.”
She adds, “But one thing that can stand out the most is our resistance. Puerto Rico, up to this day, continues to deal with the aftermaths of hurricanes Irma and Maria and now Hurricane Fiona. Even after all the darkness that looms over the island, Puerto Ricans continue to celebrate, smile, and support each other through dark times.”
Acevedo Santiago, who is the recipient of Languages and Cultures Scholarship, says she always enjoys celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month to not only learn more about other Latino and Hispanic cultures and traditions but to also see her own Puerto Rican culture receive some spotlight and greater awareness.
“There’s just not one thing I can celebrate about my culture without mentioning it all,” Acevedo Santiago says. “The food (empanadillas with a Malta India), the music (bomba and plena), the geography, the history, and the passion we Puerto Ricans put into everything. I would like for all at Bloomsburg to look beyond the superficial and learn more about Puerto Rico than what meets the eye. You’ll get to know about the resistance, innovation, entrepreneurship, art, music, and pride that we carry.”
Gaining a better understanding of Puerto Rico and its people is something Acevedo Santiago hopes many come away with from Hispanic Heritage Month.
“A recent poem I wrote ‘Somos más’ (we are more) sheds light on this,” Acevedo Santiago says. “One thing about my culture that often gets overlooked is that Puerto Rico is more than a territory of the United States. We’re more than just a source of profit for the government, a tax break for the rich and a tropical getaway for the tourists. We are people, warriors, victims of abuse, and revolutionaries. We’re a community with dreams and hopes of one day being free.”
Acevedo Santiago says Bloomsburg has become a place for her to express her Puerto Rican pride and celebrate her culture.
“When enrolling as a freshman, I was nervous,” Acevedo Santiago says. “My hometown, Hazleton, is a predominantly Latino town where there are Latinos at every corner. Bloomsburg was a new territory for me as I believed I was one of the few Latinos on campus. That’s until I heard about SOL, which gave me the opportunity to express myself, celebrate who I am, and where I am from. Both SOL and the Multicultural Center gave me the sense of belonging I felt I needed as a minority.”