Entering NYU as a first-year student, I was nothing short of thrilled and overjoyed to embark on a new journey. New college, new city, new academic context. Yet, as the academic semester quickly approached, I grew overly anxious. How would I find friends and a community at NYU? How would I engage in Hispanic culture?
Despite NYU’s large undergraduate population (over 20,000!), I found it relatively easy to make friends. “How?” you might ask. Through extracurriculars. The Center for Student Life at NYU is home to over 300 student-run clubs and organizations. The perk? Students are not limited by their majors or schools at NYU. Therefore, they can join clubs not directly affiliated with their majors. For example, an engineering student can join an all-university drama club.
As a student raised in Texas on the Mexico-US border, I had the honor and privilege of supplementing the Dominican and Nicaraguan cultures I experienced in my household with the Mexican and Tejano cultures. My Latino identity is central to who I am. So I knew I wanted to join a club that focuses on unifying, educating, and empowering Latinos both on the NYU campus and within their respective communities. This is where Latinos Unidos Con Honor y Amistad (LUCHA) comes in!
As the official Hispanic/Latino club on campus, LUCHA is dedicated to bringing Hispanic culture to NYU through weekly events focused on the culture, history, politics, and art of Latin America and Iberia.
LUCHA is by no means only open to Latino and Hispanic students. The club invites everyone and anyone to a variety of cultural, entertaining, and educational events to experience Hispanic culture at NYU. What’s more, food is always provided. So you can try plenty of empanadas and rice and even take some home!
LUCHA hosts cultural events to help people feel at home. However, the events also provide the rest of the NYU community insight into Latino and Hispanic culture and history. For example, every November the club hosts Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) and Pavos Pa’ Vos (Turkey for You) before Thanksgiving break.
Priscilla Guadarrama, a College of Arts and Science senior majoring in Psychology and Politics, joined LUCHA out of her desire to find community at NYU. “Coming from California, I was always surrounded by deep Mexican culture. So LUCHA made me feel right at home while teaching me so much about other Hispanic cultures I hadn’t experienced before,” she says.
At LUCHA events offering a range of different foods, from popular Argentine empanadas to the renowned orange rice and refried beans, students are bound to feel at home!
Events also cater to contemporary discussions and educational topics relevant to the community. For example, they highlight the politics, culture, history, and art of Latin America and Iberia.
Did you know the Mexican film industry rivaled the popularity and quality of Hollywood at one point? So much so that film scholars refer to this period as the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. Thus, this semester I decided to combine my passions for cinema and Hispanic culture and host a film screening of María Candelaria (1943). Directed by Emilio Fernández, María Candelaria is a film of pivotal importance in Mexican cultural history!
Growing Up Hispanic, Being LGBT+ in Our Communities, Latino Representation in the Media, and The Magic of Latin American Film are other events LUCHA has sponsored in the past.
Who doesn’t enjoy a fun, yet competitive game of Kahoot! focused on romance and food? LUCHA hosts plenty of game-oriented events that engage students in both collaboration and competition. The History of Reggaetón event is most notable. “This event is a celebration of our roots, of resistance and resilience, of music and culture. Reggaetón brings people together, regardless of their backgrounds or interests,” says Isabel Figueroa Fernández. “I love being in a room full of people singing and dancing to our favorite reggaetón songs. It makes me feel right at home.”
Other fun events have included one focused on Latin American tourism and a poetry night. There, various students recited their own poetry or the poetry of other Latin American writers. For example, students listened to the words of 17th-century Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Nicaraguan modernismo poet Rubén Darío.
Clubs (including affinity groups) are great ways to foster community at NYU! With over 300 of them, from traditional clubs such as Mock Trial to more fun clubs such as the Cheese Club, NYU has so much to offer!
LUCHA is just one of many clubs that are dedicated to making sure every single student finds a home and community during their time at NYU!