More than just a study group

When Kim Takenishi transferred to Washington State University Vancouver in the Fall of 2013, she joined the Spanish club. She will admit she did so “on a whim” and when she first did so, the club had only a few members or future plans. Just a few months later, thanks to the work of its members, the Spanish club is now looking to the future with solid plans and a host of new members taking up leadership positions.

Takenishi is now co-chair of the club, but in her own words, “it was kind of accidental that I ended up being a leader.” Despite her tendency to downplay how she joined the group, Takenishi now demonstrates her commitment to the club through her involvement with every activity the Spanish club hosts, from large-scale events like Dia de los Muertos to official meetings or informal get-together. The club meets often, and not just for their Friday club meetings, but also off-campus, just as a group of peers bonding.

Kasha Banks shares the co-chair with Takenishi, and is in her second semester at WSU Vancouver. The majority of the club’s members, in fact, transferred to this campus to complete their degrees and have been attending the university for under a year. Banks discussed how she took pride in the rebuilding process the Spanish club had gone through, and though recently directionless, the club still hosted Dia de los Muertos for the whole student body.

With an upcoming trip to Cuba open to WSU Vancouver students, in their most recent meeting the Spanish club discussed how their future events will all aim to highlight Cuban culture and call attention to the excursion. As a way of brainstorming ideas, the whole group discussed the aspects of Latino culture they found most interesting, as well as sharing other interests or hobbies with the club. “The point of this club,” Takenishi explained in a recent meeting, “is to find out what you are interested in; what your dream project is.”

Despite being called “the Spanish club,” the group’s purview encompasses the greater culture and history of Latin America. Scarlet Hernandez, the club’s director of marketing and public affairs, voiced her love of Latin music, which was shared by many others. Club treasurer Rachel Tanner mentioned the many styles of cooking originating in Spanish-speaking countries. The discussion of food, important to events targeting college students, started many of the club’s members talking about different dishes they would like to make for their next major event. Famous artists such as Salvador Dali, and ways to bring their work to the student body of WSU Vancouver, were also of interest to the club members.

The Spanish club at WSU Vancouver has rebuilt its numbers and is now advancing into the new semester with new plans and a new goal. With their eye on the upcoming Cuba trip, the club leadership is hopeful that they can top their Dia de los Muertos celebration. More than that, however, the Spanish club is also a way for its members to meet new people on campus, get involved with student life and share common interests, be they rooted in Latino culture or otherwise.

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