Emma Esteb – Staff Writer
Last Friday, April 1 the Organization for Latin American Students (OLAS) welcomed the Gustavus community for their Annual Latinx Night in Alumni Hall from 6:00-8:00 pm. The event was complete with a diverse assortment of food from Latin America along with multiple student and professional performances, live music, and more. The title for the night was “The Many Faces of Latin America” and was the perfect opportunity to celebrate Latinx culture.
This is the club’s biggest celebration and get-together of the year. It was the first time in three years since Latinx Night because of COVID and it was a huge success with over 350 people in attendance. OLAS catered from two restaurants in the cities called Mañana and El Burrito Mercado and served pupusas and guisado.
They ran out of food and were very pleasantly surprised about the turnout. The event started with a variety of student performances that included singing, poetry, and music.
“The main goal of the event was to promote Latinx culture on campus because ever since COVID hit, our organization and other organizations, in general, have just been struggling with membership and hosting really successful in-person events,”
Senior OLAS Co-President, Maria Flores Marquez said. The goal was definitely met as they had an amazing turnout and celebrated Latinx culture as a large Gustavus community.
Starting off the event with the student performances really created a great opening and all performers felt very supported by the audience. Junior Public Relations executive member, Ana Martínez choreographed the closing dance for the students where she performed alongside them and also sang a duet within the program. Another student played the violin with her dad as he played the guitar. Many other students danced, sang, or played instruments during the first part of the event.
After the student performances, there was a food intermission where it took a lot longer than the club expected. With the overwhelming amount of people and the different Latin American food options, the cuisine was a huge success to all of the attendees. Alongside the student performances and the food, there was also professional performances from Aztec dancers, traditional Ecuadoran dancers, and a Mariachi band.
Many Gustavus students came to this event but also a lot of the OLAS members’ families attended, as well. “A lot of the parents loved the Mariachi band and after the band finished their song all of the Latina parents were yelling at them in Spanish to do an encore, which they ended up doing and playing another song,” Marquez said. The night ended with a closing student dance, a brief speech from both the OLAS Presidents and Tres Leches cake.
Overall, according to both Marquez and Martínez, the night exceeded their expectations. The event showcased Latinx culture and got students more involved with not only the culture but also the organization itself. Martínez said that the event was a huge success and a great way for the organization to get their name out there to the broader Gustavus community.
“OLAS is not just for Latinx American students, it’s for anyone who would be interested in the culture, you don’t have to be a certain race,” Martínez said.
A lot of the attendees were very engaged and enthusiastic about the student performances throughout the night. Marquez thought some students were maybe taken aback, in a good way, at the professional performances. “The professional performances are just not something you see every day. For a lot of the students, especially the non-Latino students, this was probably the first time that they’ve seen traditional dances with traditional Ecuadorian and Aztec outfits,” Marquez said.
After three years of not hosting this event, OLAS exceeded all expectations and created an amazing space where all Gustavus students felt welcomed and included. All of the board members worked extremely hard to make this event happen and it paid off in the end. The event went much better than expected and all members of the organization were happy with the results.
The student performances, food, and professional dancers all came together to bring the whole event to life. A beautiful combination of all these things created the picture of the “Many Faces of Latin America” and the Latinx culture in general.