The BYU Latino Club kicked off National Hispanic Heritage Month in traditional Hispanic style with a fiesta Latina on Sept. 16.
The fiesta celebrated the independence days of eight Central and South American countries that fall during Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
According to Ricardo Meza, president of the Latino Club, about 350 people attended the event, quite a few more than they had expected.
“Part of the success of the event was that we had a wide variety of countries, and people felt that they could identify there,” said Laura Morales, a senior from Ecuador studying Spanish translation.
Meza, a junior studying mechanical engineering, was involved with the Mexican Club at BYU before leaving to serve a mission. The club subsequently lost its momentum and “died out” according to Gregory Stallings, a faculty adviser for the Latino Club.
“But they’re back again, stronger now with Ricardo as director,” Stallings said.
Upon returning to BYU, Meza and some friends reorganized the Mexican club in January, but they decided to change the club slightly to better reflect their actual membership and include all Latinos at BYU, not only Mexicans. The change was completed in July, and the BYU Mexican Club officially became the BYU Latino Club.
Like many BYUSA clubs, the Latino Club works to complete goals within BYU and the community at large.
“The vision and objective of the BYU Latino Club is to provide students with social and cultural activities, promote educational resources and render service to the Latin community in Provo,” Meza said.
Each of the 281 official members of the club, however, also has his or her own personal reasons for contributing to the club’s projects and events.
“We really want to get involved with the American culture as well,” Morales said. “Learning from other cultures gives me the chance also to share my culture.”
Another important goal of some members is teaching other BYU students about Latin culture and traditions.
“It’s kind of hard to overcome the typical stereotype that Americans have about Mexicans, so my personal motive to be in this club is to give a representation of what we really are,” said Richie Ramirez, a junior studying finance. “We try to show the principles and values of honesty and hard work that our families teach us.”
Becoming a member of the club is as easy as joining the BYU Latino Club Facebook group. Meetings and events are announced most often via Facebook.