HUG embraces Hispanic heritage and youth leaders


Brianna Glenn

Hispanos Unidos de Guilford is showing local Latino youth to a path of leadership. On Nov. 10, the annual on-campus conference “Soy un Líder” will invite Latino youth from nearby high schools to participate in group activities.

“They come here, and for the first time they get a clear message that they can go to college,” said Latino Community Program Director Jorge Zeballos, HUG faculty advisor. “They don’t get that kind of support, unfortunately, in the schools they are in.”

Even with all the enthusiasm Zeballos has about Soy un Líder (“I am a Leader”), it is his lack of direct involvement with its organization that he finds to be the most rewarding component.

“It is a project that is organized, planned and put together by students with my support and supervision,” Zeballos said. “They do all the logistical work and organizing work. It is a way for them to give back to their community.”

HUG is an on-campus organization that gives a space for the college’s Hispanic and Latino students to celebrate their heritage. HUG also offers events that celebrate Hispanic culture which are open to the rest of Guilford.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, from Sept. 15–Oct. 15, HUG hosted numerous events. The opening event for Hispanic Heritage Month was a viewing of “Harvest of Dignity,” a documentary which focuses on farmworkers in North Carolina. Another event hosted by HUG was the memorable mariachi band performance in the cafeteria.

On Oct. 30, HUG also hosted a workshop for making sugar skulls in celebration of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Originating in Mexico, Día de los Muertos is a tradition where people gather to remember friends and family who have passed.

”I learned a good amount about the cultural traditions of Día de los Muertos from the presentation that was given, and I liked the creative aspect even though I didn’t get to eat the skull,” said junior Connor Bayne in an email interview.

Probably the most anticipated HUG event is the upcoming Nov. 10 conference.

Soy un Líder will invite Latino high school students from Guilford, Forsyth and Alamance counties for inspirational workshops on campus. The opening and closing ceremonies will be held in the Alumni Gym.

“I am looking forward to getting the kids involved,” said Alejandra Ruiz, co-president of HUG.  “Here they get to talk to college students who are Latino themselves. We are setting an example just by being here and showing that we care.”

Such an endeavor is proving to be costly. However, HUG is considering new ways to alleviate some of the financial stresses that the conference entails.

“One of the things that we are looking at is applying for grants that will allow us to have a significant amount of financial support,” Zeballos said.

Despite some of the financial roadblocks, Zeballos and HUG are optimistic about the event.

“It is, in my mind, the most powerful and rewarding event that we do every year,” Zeballos said.

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