Many schools have clubs to get students involved in after-school activities, ranging in interest from robotics to religion. At Parkdale, students have the option of becoming a member of the Todos Unidos Latino Club (TULC), where members stay after school and do activities including fundraising, dancing and talking about the Latino culture.
“We usually […] meet and we’ll talk about things we love about our culture that we would like to see represented here at our school,” said junior Hazel Hernandez, president of TULC. “By doing that we plan events, fundraisers and right now what we were working on was the Valentine’s fundraiser and our next big thing is working on our program for Hispanic Heritage Month.”
While fundraising is their primary focus that includes the entire school, Hernandez and the members of the TULC also take time to just express themselves. Their main topics of conversation are what happens in the news, and their opinions about it.
“I feel like more than anything we all just kinda meet together to like have a safe space outside of home and school,” said Hernandez. “We just meet together to have fun and embrace our culture.” said Hernandez.
Besides planning events and ways to fundraise, bringing entertainment to students and expressing their opinions of what happens in the news, Hernandez and the TULC members just enjoy spending time together.
“My favorite thing about being in the committee is that they’re all so dedicated and committed, and like for the most part none of us knew each other in the beginning of the school year but like in a couple of months we got really, really close and I feel like we’re friends,” Hernandez explained. “But we’re also like a giant family and we care for each other so much.”
In addition to building relationships amongst each other, TULC makes an effort to be present to all students, as well. The united family uses the time they have together after school to create dance routines.
The TULC “family” occasionally entertains students during lunches. Members of the club get on the stage to perform various routines they created. The routines they have are based off Latino cultural dances. So far, they have performed dances in the genres of Bachata, Merengue, and Durangense.
“We like to do dances because a lot of people end up loving to dance and they feel like if we perform more, a lot of other students will feel encouraged to dance as well,” said Hernandez.
The dances aren’t only performances but are also meant to entertain and demonstrate a part of the Latino culture to all. Through these lunchtime performances, even people who aren’t Latino are more aware of the culture and can grow a possible interest to the culture. Some students, including Latino students who aren’t part of the club, have taken notice in how the members are spreading awareness about their culture.
“I think they try their best to involve a lot of Latinos and just to make it more out there,” said junior Celin Panameno.
Celebrating Latino heritage and spreading the culture isn’t the only benefit to being in the club.
According to a research conducted by an independent group at the University of Windsor, there are five benefits to joining any club, including “meeting new people, learning new skills, getting better at time management, gaining experience that could help you in the future and improving confidence.”
By participating in TULC, student members could also be preparing themselves to participate in a Latino-based club after high school, as well.
For example, Harvard University has an organization for Latin Americans. The purpose of the organization, Harvard Organization of Latin America, is to make the community aware of “the political, social, and cultural issues regarding the countries of Latin America and the people who inhabit them.” Additionally, on Harvard’s campus, this group aims to “provide a warm social space for Latin American students, in addition to other interested students, at Harvard College,” a mission not so different from that of TULC.
Whether or not the TULC members will move on to be active in collegiate Latino clubs is still up in the air, but for now, they are enjoying the time they have together.
The Todos Unidos Latino Club meets every Tuesday and Wednesday in Room 245.