The Palanca Letter program was first organized by my Global Outreach leader from my freshman year, so stepping into a role to organize letters for Loyola Hall was personally meaningful for me. “Palanca” means “lever” in Spanish. Just as a lever enables a person to move something beyond their normal strength, Palanca letters empower the recipient to feel a depth of love that would not be possible without those held dearest to the individuals. Palancas allow students to experience love from their friends and family, although those held dear to them may not be nearby.
The letters are a huge production. The RA staff collaborates to see the program through. We started by collecting e-mails from parents at the very beginning of the school year, on move-in day. Five months later, we began sending on e-mails about the letter program, asking parents to send e-mails by the beginning on February. However, I think we still got e-mails up until the night before! In terms of volume, we received so many letters. It’s very easy to see, just by the sheer number of letters, how much parents, family members, friends and other loved ones care about the students in Loyola Hall.
The Palanca Letter program also happens at a crucial point in the year. Students have just returned from a month-long break at home, spending lots of time with family and friends. Any student tends to perhaps miss home more easily after the winter break. I think for a lot of students, the letters came at a perfect time when they needed to receive some love and affirmations in the form of a letter to help propel them through the rest of the school year.
Julia Gagliardi, FCRH 2019
Resident Assistant, Loyola Hall