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By Sasha Klappenback Arp
Both students and faculty at Valencia East Campus came together in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Friday, October 19th.
All thanks to the Latin American Students Organization (LASO), students and faculty were given the chance to experience various Latino traditions through food, music, and performance. Smells of traditional Latin cuisine lingered within the halls as the sounds of music from the Mariachi band drew students near, and if you got close enough, you could see the various vibrant colors of the Mexican Folklore Dance group costumes.
The LASO has been putting on the food and music festival since October of 2015 and the organization has been present on Valencia’s campus for at least eight years. As the LASO members danced and sang along with the Mariachi band, their spirit and love for Latino tradition filled Valencia’s mall.
When talking to some of the LASO members it was evident that they enjoyed sharing and introducing their various cultural traditions with their peers. “I like serving people the food and seeing the smiles on their faces,” said member Willfredo Rivera,18, Valencia Mechanical Engineer major.
“We hope everybody is getting a sense of what it is to be Latin American,” said member Emmanuel Garcia, 28, Valencia College Computer Science major. And it’s those exact traditional aspects that keep Valencia alumni students like Deanna Mckay excited to come back and participate in the following years.
Deanna Mackay, a 24-year-old UCF Education major, has been attending these event for the last five years: “It’s very traditional. That’s the one thing that stands out the most—it doesn’t feel commercialized at all. It feels genuine, traditional, and you get a little taste of the countries around us.” Valencia’s LASO is making strides to share and educate their fellow peers with large smiles about the cultures and traditions they love.
“We hope that this can be more frequent, maybe do a week instead of a day. That way we can reach out to more people,” said Garcia, age 28.
Professor Juan Alberto-Salto, head advisor to LASO, has been a part of the organization since 2014. They meet every Tuesday from noon to one o’clock at East Campus Building 3, Room 143. The LASO is always welcoming new members to join and participate in social, educational, and community service events.