By Valerie Miko
Music, dancing and empanadas — what more do you need from a Union Latina club meeting?
More than 50 students came to catch up with old friends or meet new ones at Union Latina’s welcome back event on Wednesday, Sept. 5 in the Brower Student Center. Ritmo Latino, a Latin dance club closely associated with Union Latina, also joined to spread awareness of their upcoming auditions while supporting their peers.
Union Latina is a student organization that focuses on promoting “unity throughout all the various cultures and nationalities represented on our campus, especially the Latinx community,” according to Jessica Rojas, a senior public health major and president of Union Latina.
Rojas explained that the club’s goal is to offer a safe space for members to express themselves and explore their culture while being surrounded and supported by their peers. Union Latina hosts educational events throughout the semester, and the executive board works hard to maintain a safe and welcoming environment while organizing events that range from a welcome back party to a themed gala.
The purpose of the event was to welcome back returning members and encourage incoming freshmen to get involved with Union Latina. Ritmo Latino had similar goals in their involvement with the welcome back event by treating everyone to a sample of what their dance organization is about.
Some guests came to support friends, and others came to reconnect with their Latinx roots.
One of the many highlights of the event was the performance given by two representatives from Ritmo Latino. The dancers captivated their audience with with lots of hip movement and quick steps.
Although in the past the two clubs had only coordinated together on major events, such as Copa Night and Gala de la Raza, Ritmo Latino member and senior public health major Rachel Kaye said that both Ritmo Latino and Union Latina plan on getting more involved with the campus community.
“This was my first meeting and I loved it,” Kaye said. “It was super fun and welcoming. Plus the empanadas were great, but no surprise there. It was a very warm environment and I plan on going to more meetings in the future.”
The night started with a round of Kahoot, a quiz game in which players answer multiple choice questions on their phones while the main screen keeps track of who answered the fastest and who got the questions right. Questions were both fun and informative, ranging from “Where did salsa originate from?” (answer: the U.S.), and “Which country produces the most emeralds in the world?” (answer: Colombia), challenging participants to recall cultural trivia.
Many players admitted to not knowing the answers to several of the questions.
“I was surprised by a lot of them,” said Amanda Matos, a junior finance major. “I didn’t know the answers to at least half. It was a good learning experience.”
After not having many opportunities to interact with other Cuban or Latinx people outside of her hometown, a sophomore English major Kaitlyn Wilson said that Union Latina meetings could be a great way to help her meet more Latinx peers.
“I would really like to get in touch with my Latina roots a little bit more,” she said.
Although the welcome back event was Union Latina’s first meeting of the year, there will be plenty more opportunities for students to get involved with both Union Latina and Ritmo Latino to either support their Latinx friends or explore their own cultures.
“It’s nice to be surrounded by people who are the same culture I am,” said Valentina Zapata, a sophomore biology major. “I like the atmosphere and I’m excited to come back.”