A homely experience that was filled with music, community, food and stories.

Día del Amor y Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship) was an event to celebrate the Latin American culture of Valentine’s Day. The event was hosted by Mataes Ledezma, the Vice President of the Latin American Student Association (LASA). 

Día del Amor was held in the Felix Event Center inside the VIP room located at the entrance to the Hall of Champions on Feb. 14. 

When I entered the event, the atmosphere of the room felt like home. The decorations, the music that would be played in the streets and the recollection of the foods that I ate as a child. The soothing atmosphere made it feel like I had time-traveled back a year. 

Each station of tables welcomed the visitors with different activities, such as Valentine’s-themed crafts and sweet treats. I was seated in the ceramic painting section and had a variety of choices. I painted the heart ceramic and heart cookie-shaped ceramic.

The other stations of crafts were customizable heart-shaped wool keychains.

This is the result of the crafts that I made during this event. God may have given me the talent of writing but he didn’t give me artistic talents. I was still satisfied with my results.

Although few students had attended this event, I had some insightful conversations with students about their Hispanic childhoods. I felt great sympathy while listening to their stories.

Ledezma, who is also an honors student majoring in animation and visual effects, said his reason for hosting this event was to celebrate Latin American culture that could not be celebrated from home.

“To celebrate our culture as Latin American Students and also let this place be a place where others could celebrate with their friends and loved ones,” he said.

Ledezma did an excellent job creating this event to make it suitable for Latin American culture students. I felt at home, where I could speak Spanish without any pressure. 

Ledezma gave his team a lot of credit for making this night possible.“A lot of teamwork and collaboration made it possible for this event. These decorations were all handmade, so we tried to make our own Papel Picado, the rings of paper, and all of those papers were handmade, and we tried our best to make the most of the food, and it was exciting to create,” he explained.

Overall, the event was an enjoyable event for students who come from Latin American culture. It was a warming environment where I felt the nostalgia of home and the fantastic stories Latin American heritage people have to tell. The people were amiable and made me feel welcomed like I’m a part of the family with the Latin American vibe. I hope this event is hosted next year so that more students have the opportunity to experience this culture.