TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Daniel Sadural says his Hispanic heritage is at the forefront of his daily life, even as he navigates a new college campus in an Indiana city with just a 3% Hispanic population.
“If I’m with my classmates, I’ll just be speaking random Spanish; I’ll be giving them mini Spanish lessons,” Sadural, an Indiana State University doctoral student, said.
In his free time, Sadural said he frequently listens to Hispanic music and watches movies and TV shows in Spanish as well.
Sadural’s current campus at ISU presented some initial limitations to his interactions with other Hispanic students.
“I haven’t met many Hispanics here,” Sadural said, “I’m part of HLA, which is the Hispanic Latino Alliance here at ISU, but other than that I haven’t really interacted with many Hispanics here.”
This isn’t a new feeling for Sadural, who went to Purdue University for his undergraduate degree.
“I think for the first 2 years, I kind of felt the same way,” Sadural said while reflecting on his years at Purdue, “I felt very left out.”
At both Indiana colleges, Sadural found a sense of community by getting involved on campus.
“As soon as I started to join more clubs and organizations, I started meeting new people who I can relate to, and of course more Hispanics as time went on.”
ISU’s HLA co-advisor Theresa Ortega said student groups that host events, like the popular Latin dance nights, can create a bond between students, which can in turn create a sense of appreciation within the larger population.
“Once you can share that with somebody,” Ortega said in reference to student-led cultural events, “Maybe then there’s an event going on that’s a bigger venue than just the student organization and you can say ‘hey man, let’s go out’ and you look out in the crowd and you’ve got this Latin dance thing going on, and you’ve got students of every persuasion attending; they’re community folks, you’ve got faculty, staff, etc.”
Ortega said the combination of cultures is beneficial for everyone involved.
“It’s really cool to see when all those cultures come together and people really appreciate things in that culture that maybe aren’t part of their culture.”
Speaking from experience, Sadural said that appreciation can close the gap on a college campus or in a larger community with several cultures represented.
“I think that diversity kind of, it forms its own symbolic bridge,” Sadural said, “Because of course, everyone’s diverse, everyone’s unique in their own way; so we all kind of learn different things from each other.”
Both Sadural and Ortega said that while the COVID-19 pandemic has created limits on group gatherings at ISU, it hasn’t kept organization members from continuing their efforts to bond and form the cultural community they seek.
To learn more about ISU’s Hispanic Latino Alliance, click here.
For more information on how Hispanic Heritage Month is being celebrated on ISU’s campus, click here.