Students celebrate their heritage through student organizations


Photo by Josh Meredith

International Club, Panamanian Association and Spanish Club joined together to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month with a kickball tournament Sept. 28, 2021. National Hispanic Hertiage Month, Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, was enacted as an official month of observance Aug. 17, 1988.

Casey Clark, Chief Copy Editor

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published Oct. 14, 2021, in the print issue “Falling for Student Organizations.” 

International Club, Panamanian Association, Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority Inc. and Hispanic Student Union are focusing on bringing awareness to Latinx culture. Latinx is a gender-neutral term for all Latin American descendants, according to Time.

Erick Luna Lopez, senior Spanish education major and French studies minor, is the president of International Club or iClub. Lopez said they want to make iClub a place where everyone can feel proud of their heritage. 

“Just making sure that we’re proud of our culture, that we share a culture, that we celebrate our culture and where we come from,” Lopez said. “Because that’s what makes us international.” 

Lopez said they achieve this by creating a welcoming international community.

“We’re always welcoming new cultures,” Lopez said. “They can feel part of something and we’ll always be there for them.” 

Lopez said they plan to reach the university community by having the International Extravaganza and Murder Mystery in Fall 2021 and the Food Expo in Spring 2022. He said iClub was unable to host these events last year because of COVID-19, but he is looking forward to taking their day trips around the country again. 

“Last year we did not get to do any trips at all,” Lopez said. “This year, we are limited, but we are allowed to.”

Xenia Adames Chanis, junior mechanical engineering major, is president of the Panamanian Association known as Panas. 

“Panas is a word we use in Panama to refer to a friend,” Chanis said. “We say like, ‘Hey Pana.’”

Chanis said they want to bridge Panamanian and American culture and help ease the transition into university life. “It will be helpful to have a club that reminds them of their home with the culture and activities we do,” she said. 

Throughout the semester, Panas hosts volleyball tournaments, dancing competitions and cultural events to bring students in the university community together. 

In November, they will celebrate Panamanian independence with Panas Connections. Chanis said this event will include traditional dances, presentations and a fashion show. 

Chanis said they have a program called Spanish Speaking Friends where students can have informal conversations with one of the club members. “We hope it will be a safe place for you to learn Spanish.”

Jessica Carapia-Cortez, senior social work program major with a double minor in psychology and Spanish, is president of Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority Inc. 

Carapia-Cortez said she co-founded this organization in 2019.  “We are the first and only Latina oriented, but not exclusive, sorority in Evansville,” she said. 

Carapia-Cortez said their goals are academic excellence, community service, cultural awareness and sisterhood. “Far from the typical sorority image,” she said. “We are more business oriented and confident boosting, a self-growth type of organization.”

To spread cultural awareness, GPhiO hosts game nights with games mainly from Spanish-speaking countries, Carapia-Cortez said. 

Carapia-Cortez said the recruitment is still open to all university women. “We don’t have a limited time frame on when we recruit members,” she said. 

Franchesca Laurencio, senior health informatics and information management and Spanish studies major, is the president of the Hispanic Student Union. Laurencio said the HSU wishes to create events to educate the public on the Latinx community. 

“We intend to create a strong voice on campus to make an impact on the decisions regarding students,” Laurencio said. 

The HSU hosted Latinofest on Oct. 13 in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. She said the event included informational tables about Latinx culture, human jenga and other games and free food.

“Last year and this semester, we haven’t been very involved because we’ve been very low on numbers,” Laurencio said. “So we’re trying to have events to catch the students’ eyes so they can join us.”