The Latin American Student Organization (LASO) at Florida Gulf Coast University plays an important role in facilitating activities that promote diversity, service, and awareness of other cultures on campus.
I was honored to sit down with the organization's leaders, including the President (Ailema Perdomo), Vice President (Natalie Orrego), and Secretary (Giselle Ramirez) to discuss the organization as a whole and the positive impact they are making on campus by creating a safe space for all.
How was the Latin American Student Organization started at FGCU?
Ailema: "[Starting the organization again was] a struggle, since there was no pathway. We had no guidance. It's been a humbling experience to see. We went from having five to six members [to having] about 80 members."
What is your mission as an organization?
Ailema: "Our mission is to celebrate Latin American culture and to create a welcoming environment for anyone who wants to learn more about it."
Who is able to join the Latin American Student Organization?
Natalie: "Whoever is an FGCU student is welcome to join."
Ailema: "You don't have to be Latin American to join. So many students from all over the world have joined. When I first joined this organization, it was almost like a home away from home."
The organization creates a safe environment where students can express who they are. Students can learn more about their own culture, new cultures, and make friends.
Every week, the Latin American Student Organization hosts "Familial Friday," spotlighting a different member in the organization on their Instagram page.
What are some of the benefits for students who get involved?
Giselle: "Students are able to learn about amazing cultures and traditions."
Through the organization, students are also able to get involved in service-learning opportunities which will count towards the 80 required service-learning hours for graduation.
The Latin American Student Organization has made relief boxes for hurricane-affected areas in the past, as well as helping out with local food banks.
Ailema: "Get service hours, learn, and make new friends. We also want to push this year and encourage our members to seek leadership positions. When it comes to putting events together, we each have different responsibilities and want to make sure our members get involved."
Can you tell me about the activities the organization plans throughout campus?
Ailema: "The Latin American Student Organization has thrown events celebrating Latin American cultural festivities in the past, such as La Dia de los Muertos. At the events, there is often food and opportunities to talk about the pertaining culture."
They also host a "Rep Your Flag Night," where students are able to paint a flag regarding a country they find their cultural identity in. At this event, the Latin American Student Organization also hosts raffles and trivia games.
How can students get involved?
Giselle: "Students can get involved either by sending a direct message to our Instagram or by going to the Latin American Student Organization on EagleLink and requesting to join. All of the events hosted by the Latin American Student Organization will be posted to EagleLink."
Special thanks to the Latin American Student Organization officers for their contributions to this article:
Ailema Perdomo — President
Natalie Orrego — Vice-President
Giselle Ramirez — Secretary
Sasha Gonzalez — Treasurer
Phoebe Espinel — Community Outreach Chair