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‘It reminds me of home’: WKU students kick off National Hispanic Heritage Month

Kayden Mulrooney
A group of El Salvadorian dancers perform at the All Around the World event in the Honors College and International Center on Sept. 14, 2023.

WKU students kicked off National Hispanic Heritage Month a day early on Sept. 14 at the annual All Around the World celebration.

The event was hosted by WKU HOLAS, a Latin-American organization on campus, and students got the chance to experience a wide variety of different Latino cultures. 

With tables of food representing countries, traditional dancers, and door prizes, the event had much to offer. 

Paola Garcia, a Dominican freshman, represented the Dominican Republic and Cuba at her tables. Handing out rice pudding made by her mother, she felt nostalgic. 

“This dish is my childhood. My mom made it a lot,” Garcia said. 

Garcia was pleased that this event represented lesser-known Latino countries around the world. 

“It’s representing a lot of countries that not everybody knows about,” Garcia said. “Like Cuba, Puerto Rico, El Salvador. It gets us out there.”

Michelle Ramos, a sophomore, represented Mexico at the event. The table for Mexico had flan, chips, salsa, and jamaica. Ramos had never made flan before and enjoyed the new experience. This event meant a lot to Ramos, as she participated last year as a freshman. 

“Last year, I was new, and this was one of the first events I came to,” Ramos said. “So, now, helping and doing this [tabling] is fun.”

William Marcus, a non-Latino freshman enjoying the event, has a lot of passion for experiencing different cultures.

“I am not Hispanic, but I feel like, if you are a human person then you need to experience other cultures,” Marcus said. “In every capacity, I think experiencing the food, and talking about personal stories is very, very important to development and being a better person.”

Fabián Álvarez, the faculty advisor for HOLAS, emphasized the improvement over time in relation to these events and the Latino population on campus. 

“So, the history behind this event is, about ten or eleven years ago, there hadn’t been any celebrations on campus up until the student organization HOLAS came to be,” Álvarez said.  “And so, I think it was during our first year, it was just a real small event […] We had, like, one food booth and some dancers. And that was it. Slowly, over time, it’s become bigger and bigger. What it means for me, is that it’s just nice that students and the university carve out the time to represent diverse populations.”

Anastacia Álvarez, a Mexican freshman, feels a sense of nostalgia while attending the HOLAS events. 

“My dad is actually the advisor for HOLAS, so coming to these events is kind of, like, nostalgic for me,” Álvarez said. “And I also just like to interact with a lot of different cultures, and I also like to try new foods.”

The HOLAS organization has welcomed several dedicated members to the board to fill its executive spots. 

Harvey Panuelo, who is Micronesian, is the new Membership Coordinator for HOLAS. He feels at home in the HOLAS community and loves helping out with and attending the events. 

“I love it because it gives me a place that feels like home. Coming here and, like, seeing everybody that looks like you,” Panuelo said. “It reminds me of home.”

News Reporter Apollo Menéndez can be reached at [email protected]

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