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On Oct. 12, Pomona College’s Smith Campus Center boomed with Latine music and Salvadorian food from a local restaurant called Linda’s for a catered lunch. Latine students donned flags and spent quality time together in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which spans from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
This event, called Por La Cultura, was inspired by the Black Student Union’s Blackout event, an annual celebration each February at the Smith Campus Center that brings Black students together through food and dance.
Kira Apodaca PO ’26, a member of PomonaLXA, the Latine affinity group of Pomona, appreciated the energy of Por La Cultura.
“It was also an amazing experience seeing everyone enjoying themselves in the midst of their busy schedules,” she said.
Behind Por La Cultura was PomonaLXA, which seeks to create spaces of community and celebration for Latine students at the 5Cs. Co-presidents Kenia Garcia-Ramos PO ’23 and Elisa Velasco PO ’23 lead an executive board of Latine students dedicated to making their presence known on campus and supporting fellow Latine students.
The club meets every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the SOCA Lounge at Pomona and brings Pomona Latine students together to plan events, build community and have fun.
Garcia-Ramos and Velasco both learned about the club during their freshman years and, despite the club being disrupted due to COVID-19, they decided to become part of the executive board for their junior and senior years.
“I … wanted to be on [the executive board] again this year to really ramp it up and make our community stronger,” Velasco said.
Especially when representing a minority group, Velasco and Garcia-Ramos feel that spreading Latine joy and community is extremely important.
“It was a very healing experience. It also helped smooth the transition to college and [reminded] myself to take time to take care of my own well-being.”
When asked what the core mission of the club is, Garcia-Ramos said, “Visibility, comfort, safety and then building spaces of community.”
PomonaLXA has put on multiple events this year in order to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. One of which was a self-care night for Latine femmes, which included face masks, conchas, hot chocolate and a viewing of Shrek 2 in Spanish.
“It was a very healing experience,” Apodaca said. “It also helped smooth the transition to college and [reminded] myself to take time to take care of my own well-being.”
Just last Saturday, PomonaLXA hosted their annual !Viva Latinoamerica! party in Edmunds Ballroom. Always a hit, Viva is a night of Latine music, dancing and visibility. Viva aims to bring in the entire community and was ultimately the deciding factor in Garcia-Ramos and Velasco becoming part of PomonaLXA.
But Hispanic Heritage Month is just the beginning, as PomonaLXA has many events planned for the rest of the school year.
In the coming weeks, Latine students will paint Walker Wall, as they do each year, in order to mark their presence on campus and make their voices heard.
“Even though the majority of the college’s population is POC, outside of the numbers, we can be invisible, so I like how we are physically going to take up space on our campus,” Apodaca said.
Another series of events the club will be hosting are organizing talks with professors, in which Latine students discuss organizing tactics and ways the club can organize the student body to see change.
PomonaLXA also plans to have snack events weekly in order to create Latine spaces of healing. Snack events can vary from karaoke night to a study session, and all formats hope to foster comfort and Latine joy.
Other actions and ways to help can be found on the PomonaLXA instagram page, @pomonalxa.