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Latin Fest highlights Latin American culture


On Oct. 13, the Association of Latin American & Spanish Students (ALAS) held their annual Latin Fest, a celebration of Latin American culture, cuisine, and traditions.

This event comes at the end of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on Sept. 15. Throughout the past month, ALAS has hosted events around campus to educate and celebrate Latin culture. Events included a student panel, a guest keynote speaker and a Hollywood-themed dance night.

This year’s Latin Fest was filled with traditional Hispanic food, performances, and games.

“Every year we try to go as big, as bright, as colorful as we can,” ALAS Co-President Paula Matsunaga ’18 said. Matsunaga serves alongside Kamilia Arroyo ’18.

According to Matsunaga, this year’s theme for the event was the same as last year’s: unity. The goal was to bring everyone on campus together for a fun event, especially in times that can seem divided.

There were several performances that were featured, including an appearance from the New York-based dance company Samba New York. This group displayed their traditional samba dances, as well as a percussion accompaniment. The group had the audience energized, even pulling people from the crowd to teach them some moves.

The next performance was by singer Thalia Falcon ’18, who sang both English and Spanish songs. At one point, she invited anyone who felt inspired to join her on stage and dance as she sang her last song. Several couples went up to dance, including Matsunaga.

The final performance was put on by the Loyola’s Unleashed Step Team, who performed a step production to songs that had a Spanish influence.

Between performances, those in attendance could eat a variety of traditional Hispanic foods, including rotisserie chicken, fried plantains, cheese and pork pupusas, and chicken tamales.

In addition to the food, ALAS also involved the audience with games and trivia, such as guessing the Latin American country by its flag. A PowerPoint presentation gave fun facts about several Hispanic nations.

Doug Moreno ’19 said his favorite part of the night was the samba performance.

“I really liked the [samba] dance, especially when the percussion ensemble went on because I’m a percussionist,” Moreno said. “Seeing that reminded me of when I was in marching band in high school. It almost made me want to cry because I love that music!”

Moreno also went on to comment on how these type of events always intrigued him. As a Hispanic student, he enjoys learning about the different cultures and traditions represented at Loyola.

Matsunaga emphasized that ALAS and Latin Fest aren’t just for Latin students. For her, it’s about inclusion.

“This event just really brings everyone together,” Matsunaga said. “Everybody comes here, and they’re having fun. It doesn’t matter who you are.”

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Latin Fest highlights Latin American culture