On campus at William Jewell College, Mi Gente is striving to provide a place of community – bringing together all people to celebrate Latino culture.
When asked about the mission of Mi Gente, Olga Morales, sophomore public relations and theatre major and social media coordinator of the club, emphasized Mi Gente’s goal to educate the Jewell community about Latino culture.
“On our Instagram page, we’re always open to teach and educate people about the Latino experience. Especially being in such a small demographic here at Jewell, we’re not limited to just the Latino community but to everyone here at Jewell,” said Morales.
Christian Santiago, sophomore history and political science major and secretary of the club, elaborated on the importance of inclusion.
“I would say that the primary draw for us is not only getting the word out there about what Hispanic and Latino cultures have to offer [to] a broader community that may not be as well informed on it, but also there’s a strong emphasis on the sense of inclusion. Never for a second would we want to give off the impression that Mi Gente is a Hispanic club for [only] Hispanics. It’s about building community and bringing people in to educate and celebrate [Latino culture] along with us,” said Santiago.
After being founded in 2015, Mi Gente is still trying to increase its visibility through its own projects as well as collaborations with other organizations on campus.
“[When] we started in 2015, there were like five members in the club originally and now we have about 33 members in the club, so we have increased a lot. We’re still not as visible [as clubs like BSA and QUILTBAG], but we’re getting enough visibility to the point we’re getting new members. Last year we started a social media page where we got over 200 followers from Jewell’s campus and people [who have different] perspectives so I think we are still growing and it’s going in a good direction,” said Morales.
Santiago explained the collaborations between clubs on campus and the importance of that camaraderie.
“I think there is a good emphasis there on our kind of assimilated involvement with organizations like the BSA and QUILTBAG and those kinds of, I suppose, culture minority clubs on campus. It has been really helpful on our part to interact with one another and kind of piggyback off of one another to kind of help strengthen all three of us collectively,” Santiago said.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, Mi Gente has only been able to hold one event, but they have several projects coming up in the near future.
“Our first event was the ‘meet Mi Gente,’ so it was our very first event and we’re having two events coming up soon. We are planning to work along with [the] digital media communications class to do like a Halloween event, and we are planning to do a Day of the Dead event where we teach and educate people about Day of the Dead [and] even put an ofrenda in the union where people can give peace to the loved ones they’ve lost,” said Morales.
Mi Gente was planning to highlight Day of the Dead in their Halloween collaboration with digital media communications, but they instead used the event as an opportunity to educate the Jewell community on the difference between Halloween and Day of the Dead.
“We were planning to [highlight] Day of the Dead [during the Halloween event], but I feel like it would be out of theme with Halloween. A lot of people tend to associate Day of the Dead with Halloween, which [are] two different things. We’re going to do something that is scary in the Latino community and do a selfie background as well as posters and stuff like that [but] try to associate Day of the Dead with itself rather than with Halloween,” stated Morales.
Another project for Mi Gente is focused on the Latino faculty and staff at Jewell. In order to show the Latino staff on campus that they are appreciated, Mi Gente will be putting together and delivering goodie bags with items like candy and hand sanitizer.
“We thought it would be a good idea as kind of an activity together as an organization for the semester to work on making goodie bags for all of the Latino workers on campus just as an appreciation for all that they are doing. [It’s] just a good way to show to them that they are appreciated on campus,” said Sierra Sanchez, junior biochemistry major and vice president of the club.
Throughout the rest of the fall semester and into the spring, Mi Gente will continue to focus on increasing visibility on Jewell’s campus as well as educating the community on Latino culture.
Mi Gente’s cabinet consists of President Patrick Rohlfing, senior philosophy and religion major; Vice President Sanchez; Secretary Santiago; and Social Media Coordinator Morales. Mi Gente can be found through their Instagram page.