Club Spotlight: LASO

Maria Hoz has been involved in LASO (Latin American Student Organization) since last year, but this year is her first time as a club head.

“I was really nervous at first,” Maria said. “I wasn’t sure how that [being a club head] worked and what it meant, but I was really excited to actually do things and put things together and see them come through.”

Maria’s co-head, Victoria Prince, is also a first time club head. Together they have been paving their own path. Maria hadn’t expected to be a club head this year. She first ran for the advertising/publicity position, but when she was voted as a new club head, she decided to go with it.

“Last semester I had Amaya [as club head]. And then she dropped because of senior project and all that. I had her to show me the ropes and show me how to do things, and then this semester me and Victoria have just been like, ‘Ok let’s do this because we’re both new and we both have ideas.’ And it’s been going really well.”

Although Maria wasn’t an active member of LASO until her sophomore year, she first heard about the club as a freshman. Maria knew the then LASO club head Katherine Garzon through BEOP. Katherine would often talk about all the exciting events and dances she was planning. When Maria asked her why she always seemed to be working on events, Katherine invited her to join a couple meetings.

“She said ‘Well, it’s for LASO,’ and then, ‘You guys should come to the meetings!’ So I started going to a couple meetings and it was really interesting. And I was like, ‘Huh, this is really interesting,’ because the things that we talked about weren’t just things pertaining to Hispanics or people of Hispanic or Spanish descent or however you want to label it. We were talking about all kinds of things that define identity and what it means to be Latino and how people define that and all these things.”

Katherine’s work with LASO inspired Maria. Katherine’s enthusiastic energy and effort to incorporate the entire community and not just the handful of people who came to the meetings helped to create a place of belonging in Maria’s freshman year. Katherine made planning events for LASO look fun, and Maria decided that was something she wanted to do. Now, two years later, Maria is facing the challenges of being a club head herself–and she’s having a blast.

Maria says that’s due to a combination of a really great group and some really exciting events. Everyone in the club comes together to share ideas and opinions. Members have different ways of doing things, but they all hear each other out.

“It’s really nice to be in a group of people that are like ‘I think that’s a really good idea’ or ‘I don’t think that works so well because of xyz’ instead of like, just attacking each other for whatever reasons. I’m with a group of people that is willing to listen to each other and work together to achieve the same goal. So I think that’s definitely been good.”

One of the things the group has been working together on is establishing new traditions. This week has been the first year LASO has hosted La Semana Latina. For the first week in April, LASO, ISO (International Student Organization), and the LAIS Department have been collaborating to host a series of events. It started with a student poetry reading in the Olin Auditorium on Monday with Juno Diaz and will end tonight with the Latin Dance Festival at 8pm in the MPR.

Maria is especially excited for the Latin Dance Festival. The show involves the Latin Dance Club, Salsa Club, Tango Club, and Samba School. There will be dancing and lessons, music and food, and it’s going to be epically fun.

“We’ve all been working really, really hard to put the performances together, and putting things together. We got the food order… and we’re hoping this will turn out really well.”

The idea started when some of the club officers who are also in the Latin Dance Club proposed setting up a show. But they didn’t want to do it all by themselves because they represent a very small portion of Latin America. So LASO invited the Tango Club to join and Samba School will be representing all sorts of music from all over. Maria likes the idea of bringing together music and dance to energize the whole Bard community.

These dances are going to be beautiful. If you aren’t excited, you’re wrong!

“We’ve noticed in the past when doing club fair day, or like the big health-related events [such as Body Fest or Bard-on], when you play music and you get people involved, the environment changes entirely and you get more alive and more involved. That’s definitely what got us to be like, ‘We should do this and we should include people from other clubs.’ Because when you provide music you give people an incentive to come out and do things, and it just makes everything happier. And it’s spring, people should be happy.”

LASO’s next event is on April 12th. They will be participating in the Global Festival with ISO.

“That will be really fun,” said Maria. “We’re putting together a PowerPoint of all the Latin countries and a little bit about what makes each of them so special.”

Anyone interested in getting involved, sharing ideas, or joining LASO are invited to join the weekly meetings on Wednesdays, 8pm-9pm. Most of the meetings are in Olin, but every other Wednesday LASO has Cafecito las Ocho in the Red Room (second floor Campus Center). All are welcome to come and talk and share ideas. If you are interested in helping plan an event or hosting one to prepare for being club head next year, Maria invites you to just come by or email her directly (Maria Hoz through Bard Mail).