HOLAS hosts annual festival, brings diversity and education

Princeton junior Kate Hart, left, and Bowling Green junior Cindy Gomez apply stickers onto Tell City, Indiana, sophomore Mercedes Mendez at the Hispanic Heritage Festival on Thursday, Oct. 13, at Centennial Mall. The stickers resemble face paintings traditionally worn on Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday celebrated every October. Mendez takes pride in her Mexican heritage and said she wants to share her culture with others. 

Kalee Chism

Every year, the Hilltopper Organization for Latin American Students puts on a Hispanic Heritage Festival, a celebration devoted to learning more about Hispanic heritage.

HOLAS hosts many different events throughout the year and dedicates its effort to community service and awareness.

“What we do is a lot of community service,” Allan Moreno said, a Nashville senior studying Corporate and Organizational Communications and member of HOLAS. “We raise funds for students who can’t afford college as well as awareness for different social issues.” 

The festival focused on informing students about different cultures and hosted a variety of activities, including sugar skull painting and a Zumba class.

“This is the annual Hispanic Heritage Festival because it’s Hispanic Heritage month right now, so we’re just trying to educate people on the Hispanic heritage and the culture and the language, and food and everything,” HOLAS President Kate Hart said.  “We have activities from all the different countries.”

The festival featured posters from places in Latin America, including pictures and information about each destination.

“I love getting to experience everybody’s different cultures because so many times HOLAS is just labeled to like Mexico or Latin America, but you can see so many different countries represented,” Louisville sophomore Andi Dahmer said. “I know we have people from El Salvador, Ecuador, and Mexico and several others. Just looking at the signs is so cool.”

The club aims to show the diversity on campus and to educate students of cultures different from their own.

Moreno said he’s hoping students can gain diversity and knowledge.

“People are not dumb, or stupid; they are just ignorant sometimes,” Moreno said. “So I feel like our job is not to get mad when people make offensive comments. Our job is to educate other people.”

Dahmer said she hopes the festival allows students to feel more connected to the diversity on campus.

“I think it’s really amazing to see the diversity that we already have on campus, and these places may seem far away, but really you can learn so much about other cultures just by interacting with your fellow students,” Dahmer said.

“I hope that people break out of their comfort zones and try to learn something and accept something that’s different from what they’re used to,” Hart said.

Reporter Kalee Chism can be reached at [email protected].