by Alyssa Brooks
Founders of new club H.O.L.A., Heritage of Latino Americans, kicked off their group with the Fair Trade Festival — otherwise known as ¡Celebremos Latino America! — Oct. 18 at the Hixson Union Building.
The event featured a taco truck as well as various fair trade vendors.
The club’s leadership team hoped to expose students to small businesses and artists, H.O.L.A. faculty adviser Vange Ocasio said.
“I think that student exposure is another way to educate the campus community,” Ocasio said.
The club’s leadership seeks to continue pursuing their goals beyond the festival, President Ingrid Sub Cuc said.
“We [H.O.L.A. leadership] want to talk about the political and social sides of Latin America, about our parents, about immigration, different topics that are hard,” Sub Cuc said.
The group’s leaders hope to accomplish a wide range of goals, Sub Cuc said.
“I think at the heart of that is to create an environment that will retain Latinos in higher education,” Sub Cuc said. “It’s one thing to have a big number of Latinos enrolling. It’s completely another having them graduating.”
Beginning its community ventures, H.O.L.A. exposed the Whitworth community to Latin American cultures through fair trade goods at the Fair Trade Festival.
The smell of taco seasoning hung in the air outside the HUB as students and faculty stood in line for the taco truck from Tacos El Sol. Inside, statues of different animals sat on the ground and brightly-colored, beaded jewelry was displayed. Tables set up in an outward facing semicircle held fair trade goods for sale in Lied Square. Students walked by or stopped briefly to take a look.
Vendors at the event represented five countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile and El Salvador, Sub Cuc said.
“These are people that we know are part of the Fair Trade Federation in Spokane,” Sub Cuc said. “They work directly with very impoverished communities in Latin America.”
The festival also functioned as a statement of values for the new club.
“We talk about wanting to be a humanitarian school and wanting to promote doing things in a way that is not exploiting people,” said Sarah Washam, resident director of Stewart, The Village and Boppell. “This is a perfect way to support that.”
Goods for sale were jewelry, scarves, coffee, wooden figurines, purses, cards and produce. The produce table offered tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, potatoes and carrots. Sample cups of coffee sold at another table gave off a rich aroma.
“They were really good,” junior Iris Chavez said. “I got the pork tacos. What I tasted of the coffee was good too.”
Faculty members as well as students and parents stopped by the event. The festival was situated in a high-traffic area, placed in the middle of the HUB.
“I just really want people to have fun and enjoy our culture and embrace it like we do,” said senior Jennifer Rojas, a club leader who assists Sub Cuc in official responsibilities.
“We think that’s crucial for us, to go back into those high schools and really help,” Sub Cuc said. “[We want members to] really try to inform and be a role model and a mentor at the same time, provide opportunities to make it easier for students to apply to college and consider college.”
H.O.L.A. plans to start a high school mentorship program to provide resources and support for Latino high school students. As part of their educational goal and focus on the importance of higher education, a mentorship program is the most practical way that H.O.L.A.’s leadership can give back to the community.
Contact Alyssa Brooks at email@example.com