Manishanker Somavarapu is an Indian student studying hospitality and tourism management at Whatcom Community College (WCC) through the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program. Recently Mani joined the Latino Leadership Club (LLC) supported by the WCC Intercultural Center. By planning and participating in the LLC, Mani aims to improve his communication and leadership skills while gaining insight into a vastly different culture than his own. The LLC also aims to help undocumented students in their pursuit for higher education, allowing Mani to become an advocate for younger students in need.
I’m associated with the Latin Leadership Club and learning about Latin Americans. Through community service, we intend to support the academic success of Latino/Latina students and develop leadership skills together as a group. We are a group that tries to spread awareness about important social issues, put on events, especially cultural ones. Two events that we have co-sponsored are Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Celebracion del Dia de los Muertos.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day, also known as Native American Day, was celebrated on October 13th. It is a holiday celebrated in various localities in the United States, which began as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day. The purpose of the day is to promote Native American Culture and to celebrate and commemorate the history of Native American peoples. From attending the Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration. I learned about some of the many cultures that were in the Americas before Columbus arrived. I liked the dedication and respect of the dancers and drummers who honored the Lummi and other Native people.
We also sponsored a Celebracion del Dia de los Muertos, a holiday observed throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures between October 31st and November 2nd. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. We painted our faces and played some Latin music.
What I like about being a part of the Latino Leadership Club is connecting with Latin students and learning about Latin cultures. This club is so special to me because it’s the first club in my life. Perhaps this is would be great step for me to associate forward with other club meetings in the future.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.