Despite the challenges of a remote semester, the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) has been planning programs to engage and include the Latinx community during Latinx Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15.
So far, LASO has offered a mix of on-campus and remote programming, including an on-campus movie night and a virtual kickoff on September 24. For the latest event, held on Monday, LASO worked with Career Exploration and Development (CXD) to host a panel of Latinx professionals and Bowdoin alumni. To conclude Latinx Heritage Month programming, LASO will be hosting a trivia night in collaboration with the Student Activities office on Saturday.
“I think that a lot of people that are remote don’t have a lot of space to interact socially, so that was something that [LASO] really wanted to provide,” Kellie Navarro ’23, who is serving as remote programming director, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
On-campus programming, although smaller in size now due to Bowdoin’s 20-person limit on in-person gatherings, is nonetheless robust. Before Latinx Heritage Month, LASO ran a first-year specific program on the quad earlier this fall. A few weeks later, the organization hosted a dance- and tamale-filled kickoff at 30 College, and, for Latinx Heritage Month, a movie night that was attended by both members and non-members.
“Everybody was just dancing and talking about what it is to be a Latinx student here on campus, and everything that comes with it,” said Kalyn Duarte ’21, LASO’s on-campus programming director. “We just want to help the first years and their transition more than anything and make them feel like they’re at home.”
Remote programming has proved to be a bit more challenging, especially when it comes to connecting with first-year students living off-campus. After facing a lag in online attendance, the LASO board has been brainstorming ways to engage Bowdoin’s remote Latinx community.
“It’s been hard to get a lot of people to come, I think because of the nature of remote learning and the fact that I think that everyone is still fatigued from being on Zoom,” said Navarro.
LASO is continuing to make plans for remote programming. Navarro hopes to work with CXD again to connect a lively community with professional ideas.
“We’re also thinking a lot about different ways to engage our professional network and continuing to build those professional skills,” Navarro said. “[We’re thinking more] about connecting with our professional network outside of a panel like we did.”
The next LASO event will be a conversation with Dolores Huerta, a Latin American activist who tackles issues ranging from labor to civil rights to feminism. This conversation will take place via Zoom on October 16.
“It’s going to be really, really awesome to have [Huerta] speak with us,” Navarro said. “During the summer, her foundation was really willing to give us an opportunity to, even when we didn’t have the funding. … And they continued that. Even when we did have funding, they [said], ‘We’ll just continue to host you because we really want to have that space for you all. She is such a big figure that we didn’t even think that she would even contact us, especially during a pandemic.”
After Latinx Heritage Month ends, LASO will continue programming inclusive events and conversations aimed at creating a sense of community, even if many of its members are remote.
“LASO is a place for everyone. Obviously, it’s focused on Latin American students on campus, but, at the end of the day, we accept anybody with open arms,” Duarte said. “And we would be more than happy to have anybody join because we will make you feel like family.”