YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As we continue looking at Hispanic Heritage Month, there are a lot of activities happening in the Valley.

Dr. Alicia Prieto from Youngstown State University said Hispanic heritage is important to recognize and celebrate.

“We have a big Hispanic community in the Valley, but we are very disjointed. So, this is an opportunity for us to come together and meet each other and build community. This is a great time for us to get to know each other and for the rest of the Valley to get to know the big community that we have,” Prieto said.

Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. It starts in the middle of the month and ends in the middle of the month.

“We want to include all of the Independence Days or as many as Independence Days for different countries in Latin America. So Mexican Independence Day, where I’m from, is Sept. 16. Some of the Central American countries celebrated Sept. 15, and some of the South American countries celebrate in October. So, we include as many as possible, so that’s why it’s starting Sept. 15 and it goes to Oct. 15,” Prieto said.

Many events are planned for the celebration.

“This next week, we’re going to have the global diversity of ‘Hispanics and Latin Americans,’ which is going to be a lecture by Dr. Michael Benitez,” Prieto said.

Dr. Benitez gave a lecture at YSU online during COVID-19 and this year, it will be in person.

“This is a lecture open to everybody in the public. We also have our main celebration that we have every year. That’s going to be Sept. 14. That’s open again to all the public,” Prieto said. “Then we get food for everybody and the food is free. We have different vendors and we have dancing and music from every Latin American country. This is like a really big celebration that happens on a Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.”

Prieto shared that her favorite food is Mole — the Aztec word for salsa.

“It’s this sauce made out of chocolate and spiciness and a lot of different nuts. It gives it a really interesting flavor, and we put it on top of chicken, sometimes all their meats. I like them when they’re like chicken wrapped in a tortilla. Oh, it’s just delicious,” Prieto said.

Tuesday night at YSU, they hosted “Noche de Cine,” a movie night outside the Maag Library. The film they showed was “In the Heights.”

“We just wanted to host for Hispanic Heritage, to let people know that there are Hispanics out there making movies,” said library assistant Kenny Reyes.

Desirae Gostlin contributed to this report.