A new club, Diversity @ VCSU, held its first event related to diversity and inclusion Monday afternoon. In an effort to promote and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Abel Turrubiates, native of Mexico, gave a presentation on Mexican Independence Day in Valley City State University's Skoal Room.
The event, open to students and the community, was the first of many planned over the next two semesters. VCSU hired diversity and inclusion coordinator Nadja Johnson early this year to educate students on various cultures throughout the world and help students of all diversities feel included.
Monday's program was the first to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month at VCSU. Turrubiates gave his perspective on Mexican Independence Day and shared his story as a Mexican and American.
After nearly 300 years of Spanish rule, Mexico's journey to independence began with an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial government Sept. 16, 1810. Following a ten year struggle, Mexico finally claimed its independence in 1821 after the Spanish retreated.
Turrubiates said Mexican Independence Day, observed on Sept. 16 every year, is a major celebration in the country, and it actually begins on Sept. 15, when people start gathering for parties and eating. People usually celebrate Independence Day with parades and patriotic programs.
"To us, (September) is one of the biggest months of the year, in the Mexican culture," Turrubiates said. "(Mexican Independence Day) reminds me of those beautiful moments where you can actually see other people celebrating together, gathering together."
As a native of Mexico who now lives in America, Turrubiates wants to teach his children about Mexican Independence Day and what the holiday means to him.
"As I grew up, I got the privilege of going to school in Mexico and in Texas, so I got the feeling of both worlds," he said. "The 16th of September meant something to me. As my kids are now growing, I want to show them what my roots were in those days."
Turrubiates' journey to Valley City began when he moved from Guanajuato, Mexico to Texas when he was 9. When he grew up, he and others landed jobs as migrant workers with a farmer near Moorhead, Minn. Turrubiates said he didn't want to be a migrant worker for the rest of his life, nor did he want his kids to be either. He had a dream of opening a Mexican restaurant. Turrubiates later moved to Moorhead because he wanted a better place to raise his children. That's where he met his wife, Heidi, who was from Valley City. The couple now lives here and has four children.
Turrubiates said Valley City made quite the impression on him. He noticed "the little hills, the little town and the people. I fell in love with it, and I just said, 'I don't ever want to go back to Moorhead or Texas or Mexico." That was six years ago.
Last year his dream came true when he opened authentic Mexican restaurant Another Time/Mi Pueblito, which is Spanish for "My Little Town." He told the audience Monday that food is his passion and he wants to share that with his community.
Read this story in Wednesday's Times-Record.