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    Posted March 27, 2014 by
    La Crosse, Wisconsin
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Student voices in journalism

    UW-L Hosts Annual LASO Fiesta

    March 8th, 2014 was a day of fierce emotions for the students at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse (UW-L). The school’s annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation event had people shedding hair – and tears – to raise money for the purpose of funding research on childhood cancer. Through various efforts this spring, the UW-L community raised a staggering donation total amounting to about $30,000. As hard as it is to believe, though, the excitement of the day only continued to grow from there.

    UW-L is home to one of the widest arrays of diversity organizations in the state and one organization in particular held its spring event that night. The Latin American Student Organization (LASO) hosted its annual Fiesta, an event full of fun, friends, and Latin culture. LASO is a student-oriented diversity organization dedicated to engaging the public and working with it to explain and share Latin culture with the surrounding community. What makes LASO unique is its commitment to inclusivity. With the intent of sharing its members’ Latin tradition and heritage, it encourages and promotes participation within its organization to students of any cultural background.

    Individuals lucky enough to attend the Fiesta were immediately enamored with the event upon arrival. The evening had many wonderfully memorable moments, some of which include the cool mood lighting, the elegant dining setup, the amazingly delicious Latin food, the talented live band, and enough Latin dancing to make your hips ache for a week. What was beyond impressive, though, was the opportunity that was presented to guests to socialize with friends and family as well as the opportunity to meet new people.

    I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down and talk to one of LASO’s executive members, Amara Baldivieso Garron, about LASO and the organization’s Fiesta. “One of our goals [as an organization] is to spread the word about what Latin culture is all about. Obviously there are stereotypes about who we are as individuals based on the term “Latin,” but one of the side effects of Fiesta is that, when people come, we can share a part of ourselves and our traditions that we wouldn’t normally be able to share with a lot of the people around here.” She went on to add that, “we have a lot of other programs throughout the year, but those tend to be a lot more serious. A lot of times, they show the rough part of being from the Latin community, whereas Fiesta lets us show people the more fun and enjoyable part of Latin culture.”

    One of the more somber moments in the night came when Ms. Garron gave a short presentation on the difficulties that part of the Latin world faces today. In particular, she discussed Venezuela’s struggles, particularly in regards to its crumbling economy, skyrocketing inflation, lack of food, and government corruption. “People have no idea about what’s going on because the people’s voice has been taken away in Venezuela.” She goes on to note that, “I wanted to inform people that even though we’re far away from that place, [our community] likes to come together to help countries like Venezuela. We’re a family and we’re united.”

    What this event amounted to can be considered nothing less than impressive. Ms. Garron herself notes that she knew that Fiesta would be a hit when tickets for the event sold out two days in advance, a feat that was not accomplished the year before until they sold out at the door on the night of the program. “It was a great way to send off the seniors in LASO. I was very happy with the way it turned out.” Fellow LASO member and diversity enthusiast Emily Sander could not agree more. With the final remarks on the evening, she notes, “LASO is a taste of home for many students, and Fiesta was a great way to show it to the public.”
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