If you’re looking to get a peek into Latin American culture, look no further than HOLA. Hofstra’s Organization of Latin Americans is on campus to educate Latin Americans and others about the culture and traditions.
“People might not see it at first glance, but the Latin American community is pretty big here,” said Estefania Ramirez, the vice president of HOLA. “And it’s growing. This year I’ve seen a lot more Latin American faces around.”
The club membership had started to decrease in recent years, but the sophomore psychology major has helped to bring HOLA back to life after a friend told her about it during Welcome Week.
“I was like, yes, I can find people like me that understand my culture,” said Ramirez. “From my understanding, there wasn’t really an organization that was geared toward Latin Americans.”
The club works to show off all types of Latin American culture, even though many countries have their own traditions. They’re currently planning an event for the Mexican holiday Dia De los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, which happens on the first day of November.
“In Mexico it’s a very big tradition where you go to cemeteries and you basically worship the lives of the dead,” said Ramirez.
It’s really only a tradition in Mexico, but HOLA encompasses all types of Latin American culture. “I’m Colombian and Honduran, and we don’t really do that,” she said. “We just go trick or treating. But we want to learn about everything.”
For Ramirez the best thing about HOLA was that it was a place she felt like she belonged. “I think there’s a lot of people who feel like they don’t fit in,” she said. “I was actually one of them, and it’s because I couldn’t necessarily find a place where I felt comfortable. Just being a part of this and building it into an organization again made me feel like I was actually doing something.”
HOLA meets every other Wednesday at 6 p.m., with the location varying.
“It’s very important because it represents us on campus,” said Ramirez. “We’re all similar, but we’re very diverse as well. I want people who are Latin American – and who aren’t – to gain some knowledge.”