Emma Kelsey – Staff Writer
OLAS (the Organization for Latin American and Spanish cultures) is a meaningful organization here at Gustavus for many Gusties. OLAS members host many events throughout the year.
Senior Ana Martinez Magana is Co-President of OLAS and she shared how the org will be celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place every year from Sept 15 to Oct 15. They kicked off the series of weekly events last week with an open mic night, which was labeled as a success by Magana.
This week on Thursday, Sept 22nd, OLAS had a pick-up soccer event called El Campeonatito (“the little championship”) held on the Gustavus football field. Magana explained how soccer is very important to Latin American countries, and is excited to finally be implementing it into an OLAS event. “We’re all big soccer fans,” Magana said.
Junior Andrea Cruz Bracamontes, who is on the board of OLAS, describes El Campeonatito with great enthusiasm. “I have high hopes for this event and hope to see this become an annual tradition. The idea for this event came from the Latin American pick-up soccer leagues in the Twin Cities; we wanted to foster a similar environment here at Gustavus,” Bracamontes said. She added that OLAS members noticed a large demand for pick-up soccer games around campus, which pushed them to make El Campeonatito a reality.
The org and its events are evidently very important to its members, who hope to bring many aspects of Latinx culture to campus, and share with those who would like to learn more. “Everyone is welcome to OLAS,” Bracamontes said. OLAS is “not just for Latinos but for people who want to know about the culture,” Magana said.
“Mainly, OLAS [exists] to bring the Latino community to campus so people get familiarized with it, and learn more about it,” Magana said. She explained how their events incorporate many different areas of Latinx culture: singing, dancing, film, and different aspects of the culture which allow students to explore a variety of experiences. Magana hopes that this month’s events can serve as a great jumping off point for the rest of the year for OLAS. She expresses hopes that people learn about the org and come to join in on the fun. “We have a lot of great surprises this year,” Magana said.
As an international student from Mexico City, Magana has a special place in her heart for OLAS. “When I’m at OLAS I feel like I have little pieces of home… I met my best friends there and people I relate to,” Magana said. She describes how she has watched the organization grow and flourish during her time here at Gustavus, and expresses an eager hope to grow the OLAS community and share what it has to offer with many more Gusties. “I love seeing people learn and experience the culture. The opportunity to share my culture… I really love that.” Magana said.
Junior Itzell Martinez shares a similar viewpoint on OLAS and what it means to her personally. “OLAS means a lot to me, it is a way to connect with others that had a similar upbringing. It is not just for Latin American students on campus, it is for everyone. OLAS loves to share our cultural traditions with everyone and in every event we do,” Martinez said.
Bracamontez also expresses enthusiasm and personal connections with this organization. “It is quite literally my favorite thing about Gustavus. OLAS to me is a community of anyone who is open to learning about Latin American culture; we strive to have a good time and make it as inclusive as possible.” Bracamontez said.
Both Bracamontez and Martinez agree that the most memorable OLAS event for them was Latinx night, a big event which took place last spring. Martinez described her experience with Latinx Night as a “rollercoaster” since she had no previous experience helping plan such a large event, but reflects on how great of an experience it was to go through with fellow OLAS members.
“Latinx Night means more to us than just a large event that we hosted last year. It was the physical manifestation of months of hard work, defying criticism, and proving how strong the Gustavus and local Latin American communities are.” Bracamontez said.
Gustavus students can follow OLAS’ instagram account to stay updated on future events: @gustavus_olas.