Cooking demonstrations, bomba workshop among Hispanic Heritage Month virtual events

Annual celebration moves online with webinars, mixers, trivia nights and more

Rice’s annual Hispanic Heritage Month began last week in a dual delivery format that mirrors this semester’s course offerings: mostly online and a few in person, such as the Sept. 17 kickoff dinners that were spread across the serveries.

Hispanic Heritage Month at Rice 2020

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It’s a format the Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice (HACER) has applied to the rest of its programming this semester, said Baker College senior Bryan Najera Demoraes, co-president of HACER along with Brown College senior Stephany Marchany. Together with HACER social chair Makayla Franco, a Hanszen College junior, they’ve taken the reins on Hispanic Heritage Month along with other events planned for the rest of the year.

“Outside of this monthlong program, HACER has planned to transition most of its programming to a virtual format, including our General Body Meetings, but maintained some in-person projects, such as our volunteering opportunities,” Demoraes said. The group did just that over the weekend, helping out with the Houston Botanic Garden’s “Celebrating Latin America” event Sept. 20.

This year, Demoraes said, HACER is focused on a three-point vision: introducing introspective dialogue, improving organizational communication and increasing professional opportunities within the community. And most of these, it turns out, can be accomplished virtually.

For the duration of Hispanic Heritage Month — which culminates with a live cooking demonstration from the Martel College professional kitchen Oct. 15 — a series of virtual events aims for “a worthwhile, enjoyable, educative celebration,” Demoraes said.

“This year presented our planning committee with a unique opportunity to reflect on how best to deliver programs in a safe and healthy manner,” said William Edmond, associate director with the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

For instance, that cooking demonstration will be based on submissions from the Rice community: An online form asks people to share their favorite recipes and the stories behind them.

“Our talented chefs will cook a couple of submissions live for guests to follow along on Oct. 15,” Edmond said. “My goal is to take all of the suggestions and create a virtual cookbook to share with everyone to learn more about different meals.”

Nuestres Raices retreat 2020

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He’s also excited about the variety of other social, intellectual and cultural programming he hopes will engage a broad audience — in particular, the Puerto Rican bomba workshop Sept. 21.

“We partnered with a group from Puerto Rico to host a virtual workshop for up to 75 members to share the history behind bomba and teach us some new dance moves,” Edmond said.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a cross-campus collaboration with HACER, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Society of Latino Alumni at Rice (SOLAR), the Center for Languages and Intercultural Communication and other groups in the Rice community.

Among other Hispanic Heritage Month events to go virtual this year: the Nuestras Raíces (“Our Roots”) freshman retreat held the afternoon of Sept. 12, a Sept. 25 trivia night with the former Owls of SOLAR, a Sept. 23 webinar on “Leveraging Our Professions and Academic Degrees for Racial Equity” and an Oct. 1 event focused on the history of HACER and the Hispanic and Latino community at Rice.

“I’m especially looking forward to this last event, entitled ‘Hispanic/Latinx at Rice: Past, Present, and Future,’ to inform the Rice community of the Hispanic/Latinx experience at Rice and call for progress,” Demoraes said. “This is in light of the current conversations highlighting racial and ethnic histories and the very recent Rice Thresher timeline featuring this exact idea.”

For this event, Demoraes said, students guided by Sid Richardson College junior Alexus Arizola searched through past Thresher issues to investigate the development of HACER from its founding as the Rice Association of Mexican-American Students in 1972 to its place now and for the future.

“This is an ongoing project, as there is much to uncover” as HACER approaches its 50th anniversary in 2022, Demoraes said, “but we hope to spark some conversation.”

For more about this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, visit

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.