It’s Wednesday after school and the ‘fiesta’ is just about to get started! In Room 110 are the members of Vivo Latino, a club that celebrates the Hispanic community and their culture. The origins of the club can be traced back to 2018, when Gabriela Gaddam ’20 and Melanie Tejeda Romero ’20 noticed the lack of Latinx representation at our school, as Hispanic students make up only 6% of Bronx Science’s student body. Gaddam and Tejeda sought to achieve a deeper sense of identity.
“As ninth graders, we immediately noticed that there were barely any Hispanics in Bronx Science and of those who attended, most didn’t know each other,” shared Tejeda. “There’s Lunar and NASHA, but as Hispanics, we didn’t really have a club to celebrate us. We just wanted to change that, even if there aren’t as many of us,” Tejeda noted.
“Vivo Latino is the one place where we all have, to a certain degree, a shared experience, and one of the only places where many of us are likely to find others who share that experience,” said Elijah Fernandez ’20.
The club’s weekly meetings revolve around embracing the traditions of various Latin American countries. Activities such as discussing current events, sharing experiences of what it is like to be Latinx at Bronx Science, singing both traditional and modern Spanish songs on Karaoke Day, and watching movies like “La Rosa de Guadalupe.”
Elijah Fernandez ’20, Secretary of the club, believes that Vivo Latino has brought our Bronx Science Hispanic community closer. “Vivo Latino is the one place where we all have, to a certain degree, a shared experience, and one of the only places where many of us are likely to find others who share that experience,” said Fernandez.
Ryan Rodriguez ’20 concurs. “I like Vivo Latino because it lets me explore my culture with my peers at Bronx Science, which can be a lot of fun,” he said.
“I am extremely proud of our club because we were able to create a close-knit community of people who can relate to each other in such a big school that doesn’t have enough representation of the Hispanic/Latino population,” said Gaddam.
It is important to note, however, that although the club focuses on bringing together the Hispanic community at school, students of all backgrounds are encouraged to contribute. “I have also deeply appreciated the continued participation of members who don’t necessarily fit our target demographic, as they bring more diversity of opinions and perspectives, and they help to keep us grounded,” said Fernandez.
Hanil Chung ’20, a member of the club also shares his experience. “Although I am not Hispanic, I feel like this club has allowed to me to understand the culture that many of my friends share. I don’t feel left out at all; in fact, it’s like we’re all part of one big family,” said Chung.
The club’s advisor, Ms. Juliana Perez, a Mathematics teacher at Bronx Science, describes the environment of the club as enriching and a safe space for students to come together. “They have been able to reflect on their culture, what aspects of their culture they find more valuable and what customs or ideas do they recognize as problematic.” She has been amazed by the way this club has managed these debates. “I have been very impressed with the topics and levels of the discussions, how they are able to discuss serious topics in an organized and respectful manner, as well as to balance this with fun activities,” she said.
Whether it’s because you’re Hispanic or because you love Spanish food, make sure to check out Vivo Latino next Wednesday for “un buen rato!”