PHOTO: Oscar Zamora (left), junior, international business; Miguel Aguilar (middle), senior, computer science; Mayra Rico (right), sophomore, nursing, treasurer of HISLA. Photo by Ashlee Carlstrom for the Current.

By Ashlee Carlstrom, staff writer for The Current


The Hispanic Latino Association, HISLA, hosted “Viaje a Latino America,” or “Travel to Latin America.” The event was held October 22 between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the Millennium Student Center at the third floor rotunda. If a student happened to walk past the event, only the Spanish language would be heard. The main rule during “Viaje a Latino America” was to solely speak in Spanish. That might come as a surprise to the bystander who might be interested in joining the party but no worries. The leaders of the association allowed English to be spoken if someone who knew zero Spanish decided to enter the gathering. The whole point of this decision to attempt to speak Spanish was to understand what it would feel like to be in a Spanish speaking country.

There are many participants of this club who are from a variety of different Latin American countries, such as Nicaragua, Bolivia and El Salvador. Darryl Sanchez, senior, business administration, [President of HISLA] says, “I want to show UMSL [University of Missouri – St. Louis] and the community in St. Louis that it’s more than just Mexico to be Latin American. In every event that we try to do is something that’s a mix of every Latin culture, not just Mexico.”

The main purpose for the event stated by Miguel Aguilar, senior, computer science, was that they were, “trying to attract all of the students that are learning Spanish to practice. This is a really good way for everyone learning Spanish to get used to all the different accents, [learn what] they say in different countries, and if they ever travel, they will need these kinds of experiences.” HISLA’s goal is to immerse students in the Latin American culture and combine English speakers with Spanish speakers to learn their languages from each other.

The “Viaje a Latino America” event was about more than practicing Spanish. The members also talked about what would be expected as a member of HISLA. Oscar Zamora, junior, international business, stated, “You’re going to end up practicing a lot of Spanish and dancing a little bit of salsa.” Also, Aguilar mentions, “If you want to try food from different places, this is the place to come. We have food from all different countries in Latin America.”

Submersing a person into a situation like this event was successful and helped students realize the shock of only having the ability to speak a certain language. The key to survive in a Spanish speaking country is to rely on the knowledge of Spanish that a person already possesses, listen carefully and jump in to the culture. HISLA teaches UMSL students to have the confidence to develop stronger Spanish speaking skills.






© The Current 2014