By Will Coffman, Newswire Intern
Last Saturday night, students filled The Sanctuary, a 19th-century brick church distinguished with stained glass windows and hardwood floors that would serve as the dance floor of the Hispanic Organization and LatinX Awareness’ (HOLA) annual gala.
HOLA organizes the gala each year to fundraise for the HOLA scholarship and charities serving Hispanic and Latino children. This year, they raised money for the Su Casa Hispanic Center Services, which serves the Hispanic/Latinx community in the Greater Cincinnati area, providing social case management, family reunification, education and health promotion services. With tickets selling out, this year’s event raised over $3,000, according to HOLA President Alessandra Clavel Hernandez.
“Our annual HOLA Gala was a great way for us to celebrate our Hispanic and LatinX community during Hispanic Heritage Month,” Clavel Hernandez said.
Attendees, dressed in their formal attire, were greeted with a large room full of tables prepared for students to feast on traditional Latin American food. The tables were each decorated with flowers and were labeled as different Latin American countries with fun facts about each one.
The gala also serves to celebrate the different identities of Xavier students, showcasing the diversity of the student body and the impact every student has at Xavier. The gala’s theme was “Embracing Your Roots,” beginning the night with an introduction of Hispanic and Latinx students, who entered the large hall waving the flags of their country.
First-year sports management major Eduardo Rodriguez was one of the students waving the flags. He spoke very highly about the opening event.
“The pride of carrying my flag all over the place was really awesome. Being far away from home and being able to keep representing my culture at the highest level — it is the best thing so far,” Rodriguez said.
After dinner, motivational speaker Alejandro Clavel was invited to the stage to give a speech to those in attendance. Centering his speech around education and the importance of working hard and taking advantage of every opportunity, he encouraged students to never stop learning and to use knowledge as a tool to better yourself.
The rest of the night was spent dancing, with the opening song being led by members of HOLA before the rest of the gala attendees joined in. HOLA announced the winner of their raffle, with prizes including a JBL bluetooth speaker and a HOLA hoodie.
The event was DJed by junior music and English double major Azziz Samureh, who played songs by popular Latinx artists with a few classic line dance songs. Across the stage, one could observe dances like the cha-cha and salsa, as well as conga lines, lots of jumping and head bobbing.
Senior business administration major Gaby Gutierrez felt it was a successful night.
“I thought the HOLA gala went great because so many people came together to celebrate so many different cultures,” Gutierrez said.
That celebration was exciting even for those who didn’t attend the gala. First-year data science major Stephen Klayer, who did not attend this year, has committed himself to going next year after hearing how fun it was from friends.
“It sounded like a great experience, and everyone I talked to had fun, so I will definitely make an attempt at going next year,” Klayer said.