Club honors local Hispanic, Latino diversity

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Club honors local Hispanic, Latino diversity

CW/ Joseph Field

CW/ Joseph Field

CW/ Joseph Field

CW/ Joseph Field

Desi Gillespie, Staff Reporter

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UA Spanish Club: Los Estudiantes sin Fronteras has organized celebrations all month long to fulfill the main idea behind Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month.

“Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month gives people the opportunity to celebrate the multitude of cultures and colors that make up Hispanic and Latinx culture,” said Club President Resha Swanson, a senior majoring in Spanish. “Although everyone should be able and free to celebrate their culture on a daily basis, this heritage month creates a national platform for cultural awareness and allows people of non-Latin descent to share in the rich culture and activities.”

The month is a nationwide commemoration of the contributions made by those of Hispanic ancestry. It runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 with events sponsored by the Spanish Club.

Kaitlyn Paez, a club officer a senior majoring in economics and political science, said the club has events going on throughout the year, but there are even more events happening during Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month.

“One of our service-focused events is an educational supply drive for the children’s English as a Second Language (ESL) class we volunteer with on Saturdays,” Paez said.

Paez also runs the Charlas con Café, a conversational Spanish social that is held in the Ferguson Center Starbucks every Wednesday throughout the year.

The Charlas con Café is an event for all levels of Spanish speakers. Spanish Club members can be identified by the Argentinian flag on their table from 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

Swanson said a main selling point of the club is its inclusivity.

“We’re open to all language levels and abilities, all nationalities, whether they are Hispanic like Kaitlyn [Paez] or new to the language,” Swanson said. “There are obviously Spanish majors, but there are also non-majors and even some non-speakers who just want to learn more about the culture and serve the community.”

The Spanish Club’s full title Spanish Club: Los Estudiantes sin Fronteras, which means Students Without Borders in English, is exemplified in their mission and service. They volunteer for two ESL classes a week, one for adults and one for children. Members also serve as medical translators for local Five Horizons Health Services.

“Our mission is twofold,” Paez said. “To break down language barriers and to break down cultural barriers with each of our events.”

The organization puts on a Culture or Event Night each month throughout the year. Next month’s event is a continuation of Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month held on October 16. Latin Dance Night will be an opportunity for students to get to know each other through traditional Hispanic dances.

Food will be provided along with the chance to learn more about Latin music. The Crimson Tide Ballroom Dancers will be performing exhibition dances in between sessions. It costs $2 to attend, with proceeds benefiting the club’s community outreach programs.

Shirin Posner, UA Spanish instructor and the club advisor, provides many of the contacts and service opportunities for the organization.

“It’s 98 percent student run,” Posner said. “The officers do amazing work for the Hispanic community. As Director of Spanish Outreach for the University, I am able to provide them with the volunteer connections they need, and then the students do the rest.”

This year the Spanish Club secured $300 in funds to provide 30 free student tickets to Fiesta Birmingham. The cultural celebration of Alabama’s Hispanic culture is in Linn Park on Sept. 29. The event will have streets lined with food trucks, booths for Hispanic nations and a community concert of Latin music at the conclusion of the night. McDonald’s Fiesta Tour, an exhibit commemorating Grammy-nominated Latin artists, will also be at the event.

“I see this club as an avenue for students with common interests getting together,” Posner said. “But the main thing is that it provides a service to the Hispanic community, both kids and adults, with ESL and medical interpretation. I may be biased, but I believe it’s one of the best organizations on campus.”

For more information on Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month or the Spanish Club, check the Spanish Program’s website, www.mlc.ua.edu/spanish/.