Lucia Mulder

The Latin American Student Association (LASA) helped Berkshire celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a presentation honoring the cultures of those who identify as Hispanic, Latino/a, and Latinx. Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 to commemorate the declaration of independence of five Central American countries (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala) on September 15, 1821.

Students from the Dominican Republic sharing their culture

Members of LASA paraded the flags of their respective countries into Allen Theater to the sounds of “La Gozadera'' (a Spanish term meaning “a good time” or “party”), and then students from Colombia, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Panama, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, and Mexico presented information about their countries’ cultures and traditions. 
Clara Mollerus ’22, one of the three LASA co-leaders with Geraldine Visoso ’22 and Eli Araujo ’22, explained the inspiration behind their presentation: “In the United States, Hispanic/Latinx representation is often either nonexistent or extremely stereotypical. Take the Colombian actress Sofia Vergara. On the TV series Modern Family she propels negative stereotypes of Latin women as the comic relief on the show. She is portrayed as a loud, fiery housewife with a grossly overexaggerated accent. Although she shouldn’t have to carry the entire ethnicity’s image on her back, this misrepresentation is damaging to our underrepresented community. Our goal for the presentation was to counter stereotypes and provide accurate information. Hispanic/Latinx culture is rich and so much more than American representation shows.”
As part of their presentation, LASA members each shared one word––family, food, togetherness, strength, and courage, to name a few––that encapsulated their heritage in the hopes of conveying the diversity of their ethnicity. 

Images shared by the students from Colombia

"For me, being Colombian means taking pride in hard work, having unique viewpoints, big puffy quinceañera dresses, reggaetón music on repeat, and making my family proud,” said Mollerus. “But being Hispanic/Latinx looks different to everyone; we defy race, borders, and even language, and therefore our answers ranged from specific genres of music to holidays and food, hard work, and a strong sense of unity.” 

The sense of unity came across from the 20+ students who proudly stood on stage to share their countries’ histories, favorite foods, national treasures, famous citizens, and more. 
“A group like LASA is critical to creating a safe space for students to share their stories and build strength and pride. Some students may find that suppressing certain aspects that don’t fit in with the majority is easier and safer, but this space encourages embracing them instead. LASA offers a way for identifying students to amplify their voices within the community,” Mollerus said.