By Katie Davern
The University of Dallas Spanish Club celebrated “Dia de la Hispanidad” on Wednesday, Oct. 9. This bilingual event featured several Spanish professors and students speaking about the cultural and historical heritage shared by the Hispanic community around the world. The most notable speaker was Dr. Robert Rodriguez, a politics professor at Texas A&M University, who gave a lecture entitled “Diversity of the Hispanic World in the United States.”
The celebration was important to many UD students, since both the school and its state have large Hispanic populations. Regardless of which country they come from, many seemed proud to celebrate their culture here at UD.
Similarly, the new club “Latino Association of Students” seeks to promote Latino culture on campus. Seniors Fabiola de Anda and Erik Hinojosa, who help run the club, shared their thoughts on their Hispanic heritage here at UD.
De Anda, who is originally from Mexico, lived in Houston, TX for three years before coming to UD. She attributes her decision to come here mainly to the reputation of the business program.
“I think the professors have been really helpful,” she said, crediting them with being very understanding toward students who speak English as a second language.
Hinojosa cited similar reasons for coming to UD. A native of a small town in the north part of Mexico, he moved to the U.S. when he was in fourth grade. He attended the University of Texas at Dallas his freshman year of college, but felt that he did not fit in there or receive enough help from the professors.
“The school seemed a little too big,” Hinojosa explained. “It gave me a hard time to ask for help from the professor because he was also so busy.”
Here at UD, however, Hinojosa said he feels that the professors are always there when students ask for help.
De Anda and Hinojosa said they also like UD for the openness of the people here towards other cultures.
“It all feels like a big family,” Hinojosa said. Hinojosa has been to other institutions where foreign students mainly stayed with people of their own cultures and in their own groups. “[At UD] you can see Hispanics with Americans all mixed … Here it feels like everyone gets along,” he said.
Hinojosa also emphasized that he feels welcome to celebrate Hispanic culture and traditions on campus.
“We do feel the liberty [to do so],” he said. “And the professors also motivate us to go out there and not be afraid of being in the minority.”
De Anda said she thinks that people here are open to Hispanic traditions. “We want to get involved in American traditions because we are here and everything, but if [Americans] see Hispanic events or something, they want to get involved as well in those events,” she said. “People are just pretty open.”
In fact, Spanish professors Jose Espericueta and Amy Borja approached Hinojosa last year with the idea to start a student club that promotes Latino culture at UD, prompting him to co-found the Latino Association of Students this past January. Hinojosa said that the effort has been a success, particularly in the way that it encourages students from various Hispanic countries and American students of Hispanic heritage to intermix and learn about one another’s cultures.
De Anda agreed that this is a unique aspect of the club and Latino culture in general. According to De Anda, though there are different customs specific to each Latino country, at the end of the day everyone feels connected.
“We’re like sisters — the different traditions, the different cultures … there’s different traditions from everyone,” De Anda said. “But, at the end, everyone feels like the same. It’s like the essence is the same.”