For junior anthropology major Julie Malave coming to Temple meant a chance to better acquaint herself with her Latin heritage. Although Malave is the daughter of two native Puerto Ricans, she had few ties to her roots growing up at the Milton Hershey School – a boarding school she attended from fourth through 12th grade.
Malave is now the president of Asociación de Estudiantes Latinos [Latino Student Association] which is the umbrella organization for all the Latino organizations on Main Campus. Malave was also the vice president of Esencia Latina, a dance troupe that is under the AdEL umbrella.
The Temple News: How did you first get involved with AdEL?
Julie Malave: I was looking for Latinos on campus, and I knew a few [people involved]. My boyfriend is actually a brother in Lambda Theta Phi and we’ve been dating since my freshman year [of college] so he actually introduced me into the group because he heard about it though his organization.
I got close to a lot of people within the organization and, sort of was mentored by the old president and I became more involved and stuck with it.
TTN: What is the scope of AdEL as a student organization?
JM: It’s very broad because AdEl is one of the few Latino organizations that encompasses all Latinos – it doesn’t cater specifically to the [fraternities]. So the three main missions of our organization [are] to educate, celebrate and unite the Latino community on campus.
TTN: How would you describe the Latino community on Main Campus?
JM: I couldn’t give a complete description of the Latino population because all of those people don’t attend AdEL meetings. The people that do attend [general assembly] meetings, and generally all of the other Latinos I know, are very family-oriented. It’s very much our organization trying to be part of the culture. It’s close-knit, a lot of fun, everybody seems to be very open and, generally, I would say we want to keep that family feeling.
TTN: Which groups fall under the AdEL “umbrella”?
JM: Any of the Latino organizations. There’s Lambda Theta Phi, Lambda Theta Alpha – the Latino fraternity and sorority – Esencia Latina, which is a [dance group I used to dance for]. They do salsa, bachata, merengue and all types of [Latin American] dance.
We work a lot with the Spanish Club but not as closely. Right now we’re trying to mend the relationship with them because it seems as if there was some kind of disconnect between the organizations. Any Latino group we try to mentor.
TTN: What is planned this academic year for AdEL?
JM: We do all of our planning [by semester]. One event that everyone looks forward to that we do annually, which isn’t really geared toward academia, is our potluck called “AdEL Thanksgiving.” We work together to find someone with a house big enough to support all of our members. We each bring a meal, and it’s really a great time for us Latinos to unite in a setting that isn’t [school-related].
Every Monday is a different program, we have so many coming up. It’s just one of those things where you have to keep up with the listserv and see the flyers. We try and not do the same things every year.
TTN: How are meetings run to educate people?
JM: We have an A-B set up. Our A meetings are more [geared toward] educating or having a topic of discussion. Our B meetings are more administrative, and we plan our fundraisers and community service projects.
During our A meetings we’ll have game night [sometimes], so when I say they’re educational I don’t mean a class where you’ll be sitting, listening to a lecture the whole time. We’ll have dance instructors, professors and this semester one of our members will be hosting a cook-off.
TTN: How connected are you to the Philadelphia Latino community?
JM: I’ve become more connected because I’ve been a part of AdEL for so long, and working for Latinos for Obama, I’ve [even] had the opportunity to meet Councilwoman Maria Quiñones. I’ve been teaching Zumba for a couple of years now so I’ve taught at places like Norris Square Senior Center and there’s a huge Latino population over there. So I’d say I’m pretty involved but there’s always room for more.
TTN: How have you managed to stay in touch with Latino culture since coming to Temple?
JM: I sought out the culture. I think if you really have a passion for something that you’re interested in you have to take extra steps, especially in a place like Temple where [Latinos] are such a small minority.
I tried asking around the Student Center, asking my friends and becoming involved with AdEL and meeting Latinos. I became more involved with Latinos for Obama, I began dancing with Esencia Latina and I joined the Spanish Club. I’m really trying to embrace my heritage because when I was at Milton Hershey [School] it wasn’t really [a place] where you could be an individual, so I’m embracing a little part of me. I would recommend anyone looking to enrich themselves with their culture to find it, because they can’t expect it to walk up to them – especially for Latinos at [Temple].
Luis Fernando Rodriguez can be reached at email@example.com.