Viva: a Faith-Based Hispanic Community is working to bring people closer to Hispanic culture and language.
The Aggie Baptist Student Ministry introduced Viva as their new branch of ministry group this fall. Viva is open to both students and non-students and meets every Tuesday in the BSM building located on Northgate.
Communications junior Tiffany Aquino said the idea of Viva was brought up last spring. Aquino said Rebecca Hernandez, associate director of BMS, approached her and other Hispanic students and asked what they could do to further include the Hispanic community into the Baptist Student Ministry.
Aquino said many Hispanic students at BSM wanted to further connect with one another since they are a minority at A&M, so Viva was created to give them opportunity.
“If we have something here [at BSM], then we’re able to help them find that church [and] help them find Spanish resources,” Aquino said.
Aquino is one of the coordinators for Viva, and she said the group has seen a fluctuation of attendees at their weekly meetings. The meetings have attendees discuss a topic, and the conversation is based on what people are willing to share with one another.
“It’s like a conversation connecting point for anybody to experience a community of believers,” Aquino said. “You don’t even have to be Christian, you just come and hear about these topics and just really open your mind to more perspectives.”
Targeted towards the Hispanic community, the weekly conversations are both in Spanish and English. Many attendees are not students, while others are not Hispanic.
“[I just had] the desire to improve my Spanish and also kind of gain a better cultural context for like Spanish speaking countries in general,” industrial system engineering junior Grayson Carnahan said.
While attending the Viva meetings, Carnahan said he has grown an appreciation of the Hispanic culture and the language a lot more, especially when coming from a white community background himself.
“For the white students, [they are] getting those increase cultural contexts and for the Hispanic students, [they are] getting a sort of celebration of the culture and like [creating] a mutual understanding,” Carnahan said.
Viva has monthly gatherings outside their weekly meetings. Kinesiology junior Cesiah Apricio said her favorite gathering was when they played Lotaria, which is a Mexican bingo, and ate food together. Apricio said Viva is helping others share their similar experiences with one another and feel as though they have a home with the group.
“It’s really nice to have that small part of home that you can come here and then find people that you know are going to understand certain parts about you that you don’t have to explain,” Apricio said.
Aquino said Viva is open for anyone to attend and that they do not need to know Spanish if they are interested in joining the group. Aquino said she hopes to see the group further grow in the spring semester.
“Overall, I think it’s been really fun [and] it’s been a great time doing a lot of these fun things with each other, and we’re still new so we’re just figuring it out,” Aquino said.