2019-0406 La Raza Latina Festival

La Raza Latina last hosted its annual festival in 2019.

Ingratiating oneself with likeminded individuals is a sure-fire way of finding a supportive community. Gonzaga University’s Cultural Clubs are welcoming back members old and new as they prepare for in-person meetings and big events.  

Meeting once a week, the aim of these clubs is to celebrate and educate a variety of topics in each respective culture. Providing a safe and comfortable space for all students, fostering relationships and camaraderie are the ultimate outcome. 

The Asian American Union (AAU) seeks to help students attain a wider understanding of the Asian American culture. Meeting Thursday nights, club meetings usually start with a discussion about a recent event, a holiday, or history pertaining to Asian culture, with club members sharing personal experiences. They then play games centering around the discussion topics, creating an opportunity for club bonding and fun.  

“I feel like we’re a giant friend group just hanging out,” said junior Kaitlin Le, president of AAU. “It’s definitely something less structured, but I think creates a more casual environment for us to just have a nice thing to go to later in the evening throughout the school week”.  

AAU hopes to hold a night market that showcases Asian foods and dances, an event that welcomes the whole school as well as the public. 

“We’re always happy to have faces familiar and new coming by, as well as people who don’t identify as Asian or Asian American,” Le said. “We love to share whatever we’re talking about, making them feel involved and making sure that the space is open to everyone.” 

The Black Student Union plans to meet on Sundays so as not to interfere with its members' busy course schedules.  

“We do a lot of education within our club,” said junior Haylee Pollard, vice president of BSU. “And we do a lot of other fun presentations throughout the year and hold events for everybody. But really, I would say it’s about a safe space for both black students and allies.” 

Presentation topics can range from Black hairstyles to conspiracy theories within hip hop. Pastimes are also a focus, with club “Among Us” games being a hit last year.   

In addition to its weekly meetings, BSU plan on holding bigger events like fundraisers and the BSU Dinner during Black History Month. Every year, the dinner provides music, food and lessons on an overarching topic. The BSU Dinner topic in 2020 was “The Shades: An Exploration of Blackness" — a discussion of how blackness can impact an individual’s experiences.  

The Filipino American Student Union (FASU) provides opportunities to learn more about Filipino American culture and the Philippines. During the Tuesday meetings, the club gives updates on the happenings in the Philippines and holds bonding activities. Social events outside of weekly meetings are frequent occurrences too.   

Every February, FASU holds a Barrio Fiesta.  While cultural dances and Filipino food are typically shared, last year, the festival was celebrated via a Zoom webinar.  

“I’m really excited, especially with this being my last year. I feel like it’s a really cool opportunity to be the president and give back to the club in that way,” said senior Lyca Racho, president of FASU. "I love everyone that’s on the FASU Board, too. We’re all on the same page of we would love to see people in person again, and that’s going to be our goal.” 

Hawaii/Pacific Islanders Club (HPIC) is a home away from home for students from Hawaii and those interested in Hawaiian culture. Club meetings start with a segment called Hawaii News Now that showcases current events in Hawaii, followed by Minute to Win It games or Pidgin Word of the Week. 

HPIC hosts a welcome barbecue, camping at Bowl and Pitcher in Riverside State Park, an outing to Green Bluff, skating and skiing days and a luau celebration in the spring. The luau includes hula dancing and HPIC’s always popular dinner.  

“Be comfortable reaching out because everyone here at Gonzaga really wants you to succeed,” said senior Erin Tsue, the HPIC co-president.  “We’re all here to help you and create a safe environment for you to have a really good experience at Gonzaga.” 

La Raza Latina welcomes members with music by Latin artists, before diving into discussions about various subjects club members find important or recently learned. Sometimes, bachata lessons are taught, or guest speakers are invited to discuss topics like art or solidarity with undocumented immigrants. Meetings typically end with a game.  

“I hope to build a community for the Latinx,” said junior Bianca Aranda, president of La Raza Latina. “I hope that anyone that’s interested in learning more about Hispanic culture goes to a meeting.”  

The Queer Student Union (QSU) is a club that welcomes dialogue regarding personal experiences from people of the LGBTQ+ community. The club hopes to combat ignorance by providing education on content like the semantics of LGBTQ+ terms, the aromantic and asexual spectrum, and the presence of people of color within the queer community.  

A drag show is held every spring, where professional and local drag queens come to perform on campus.  

“It’s not just for queer people, it’s also for allies,” said junior Mattie Lagrange, vice president of QSU. “Queer Student Union is a safe place for any of the incoming class on campus.” 

On Zagtivities, be on the lookout for these clubs' first meetings.

Noah Wong is a staff writer.

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