Airmen celebrate Hispanic cultures

Team Shaw members gather for a potluck lunch of Hispanic foods during a Hispanic Organization for Latin Appreciation hosted finale event for Hispanic Heritage Month at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2017.

Team Shaw members gather for a potluck lunch of Hispanic foods during a Hispanic Organization for Latin Appreciation hosted finale event for Hispanic Heritage Month at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2017. Guests ate empanadas, tacos and rice with pigeon peas to celebrate the end of the observance month which ran from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Israel Ortiz, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron structural supervisor and Hispanic Organization for Latin Appreciation member, acts as a disc jockey during a Hispanic Heritage Month finale at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Israel Ortiz, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron structural supervisor and Hispanic Organization for Latin Appreciation member, acts as a disc jockey during a Hispanic Heritage Month finale at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2017. Throughout the observance month, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, individuals were given the opportunity to attend Spanish classes and Bachata-style dance classes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Airman Adam O’Donnell, U.S. Air Forces Central Command cyber systems apprentice and event volunteer, prepares empanadas during a Hispanic Heritage Month finale at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2017.

U.S. Air Force Airman Adam O’Donnell, U.S. Air Forces Central Command cyber systems apprentice and event volunteer, prepares empanadas during a Hispanic Heritage Month finale at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2017. The Hispanic Organization for Latin Appreciation event was designed to bring together Team Shaw members to learn about and celebrate Hispanic culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The Hispanic Organization for Latin Appreciation hosted a Hispanic Heritage Month finale, Oct. 12.

Approximately 100 Team Shaw members gathered for a potluck lunch of Hispanic foods such as empanadas, tacos and rice with pigeon peas, and listened to cultural music to celebrate the end of the observance month which ran from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

Throughout the month, HOLA members also hosted Spanish classes and Bachata-style dance classes.

These events helped Airmen broaden their horizons by learning about different cultures, said Staff Sgt. Joseph Colón-Torres, 20th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician and HOLA president. They also allowed participants the opportunity to share their own culture and background with friends and coworkers.

This event also meant something more to Colón-Torres, a Puerto Rico native, on an individual level.

“I personally haven’t been home (for) three years now, so it helps me personally comfort myself from being homesick,” he said.

As Team Shaw Airmen work together to support the various missions of the base, they solidify their understanding of each other by sharing their cultures and backgrounds to foster unit cohesion.

“The biggest thing I think (participants) should take away from it is that a lot of different backgrounds help make the nation what we are today, and Hispanics are part of that,” said Staff Sgt. Israel Ortiz, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron structural supervisor and HOLA member. “Being able to celebrate (all) heritages and cultures allows us to express ourselves as individuals and shine a light on that for everyone else to enjoy.”