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Bienvenidos to the Latin American Club

It was never necessary for Mohawk College’s Hispano Club to organize large events, or elaborate activities for the Latinx community to come together in one space. All it took was a cup of coffee and a table in the cafeteria of the Fennell Campus for Hispanic students to help each other and talk about the issues that they might face as international students.

Immigrating to a country where the language, the climate, the culture, and many other things are different from your home can be an exhausting experience. All the club
members share the feeling of being far from home, so everyone is always willing to lend a
helping hand to anyone who needs it. Hispano club member Laura Cespedes said the club is crucial for newcomers.

“The Hispanic group is a supporting community, where new students coming from Latin
America can solve their doubts with the help of people who have been in the country for a
longer period of time,” Cespedes said.

It’s not all about questions and answers, it’s also important to meet strangers and have a good time.

“Members can meet new people and form a community, which is very important when you
arrive in a country where you don’t know anyone and need to work on the social aspect that we all need,” Cespedes explained.

Members used to meet once a month. However, the Covid‐19 pandemic put an end to
any kind of physical interaction. Since then, the members have adapted to the situation and have created a WhatsApp group so the feeling of belonging was not lost. The
community uses the group to help each other on different issues.

Hispano Club president Mauricio Tascon explained how Covid‐19 affected the club.

“Covid made things a bit harder for the college to organize clubs or even assign someone to organize events,” Tascon explained. “Nevertheless, since the middle of last semester, Mohawk is making an effort with the club coordinator to organize in‐person events and activities.”

Club members constantly ask a wide variety of questions in the group, from immigration processes to rental listings.

Former Mohawk College student Pablo Peña explained how club members helped
make his immigration process easier.

Peña outside of Mohawk College during his graduation day.
Pablo Peña outside Mohawk College on his graduation day.

“When I first arrived at Mohawk, I didn’t have any clarity on what to do after I graduated from my program,” Peña said. “As I was nearing the end of my program, I decided to consult the group to find out what steps to take in my process to obtain a status within Canada.”

Peña was an outstanding student in his Supply Chain program and his participation in the
Hispano Club helped him continue with his life in Hamilton.

“One simple question in the group was enough for multiple people to share their experiences and advice, which were valuable resources for me to know what step to take next,” Peña said.

Although the club is social media‐based at the moment, that doesn’t stop members from breaking the digital barrier and extending their support off‐screen.

Mohawk College student Irene Jaramillo moved into an apartment last year and was searching for some furniture. Good thing she was in the Hispano Club and people helped her.

“Sometimes people share things to sell or give out and whoever is interested just needs to pick it up,” Jaramillo said. “Someone shared a couch, asking if someone was interested. As soon as I saw it, I didn’t hesitate to take it.”

The help didn’t finish there. Jaramillo lives with her husband, and neither of them had a way to transport such a big couch.

Jaramillo and her husband Giovanni enjoying a summer day during their first month inCanada.
Jaramillo and her husband Giovanni enjoying a summer day during their first month in
Canada.

“We don’t have the facility to transport a big piece of furniture,” Jaramillo said. “But that was not an issue as people within the same group were volunteering to help us.”

The club is looking forward to resuming in‐person meetings and helping newcomers form Latin
America to cope with the different changes international students experience by switching countries and basically building a new life from scratch.

To join the Hispano Club, visit https://www.mohawkstudents.ca/get‐involved/clubs‐directory/.

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