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Today marks the kick-off celebration for La Casa Latina’s 15th anniversary.

La Casa, one of the six cultural resource centers on campus, has served as a hub for Latino students, staff, faculty and those interested in Latino culture since its founding in 1999.

This year’s Latin@ Heritage Month, an annual tradition, will have events focused on celebrating the center’s 15 years. The first event is today at 12 p.m. in the basement of the ARCH building, where La Casa is located, and offers a chance to learn about the story behind the founding of the center.

The official anniversary celebration will not be until Sept. 19, which features performances by the Latin Express Band and Onda Latina, a campus dance group. Penn President Amy Gutmann will also be speaking that evening.

The center was first created in order to address a need for common space for Latino members of the Penn community. The effort was led by a combination of students, faculty, staff and alumni who presented then President Judith Rodin with a formal proposal in 1998. A year later, Rodin inaugurated the opening of the new center.

The opening of La Casa Latina soon spurred similar efforts in the black and Asian communities, leading to the opening of Makuu, the black cultural center, and the Pan-Asian American Community House.

A full calendar of events for the Latin@ Heritage Month can be found  here.

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