The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

LASO dishes out Latin culture

The Latin American Students Organization (LASO) kicked off their weeklong Latino Heritage Celebration with a block party for all on the Montgoris strip Monday. September 15.

The festivities at St. John’s are taking place from September 15 – 26. Highlighted events include several lectures like “Origin of Words,” hosted by Dr. Molina of Boricua College, discussing how people in society used degrading words without any knowledge about how the these terms came about.

This event will take place on Thursday, September 25 at common hour in Marillac Hall, room 111. As part of the Academic Lecture series, another highly anticipated the event titled “Catholicism/Salsa” will shed light on unexplored origins of salsa and how Catholicism has influenced its distinctive sound. This event will take place on Tuesday, September 23 at common hour in the UC Storm Center.

Students took a minute to step away from the stress of schoolwork and jobs to eat a warm plate of empanadas, stewed chicken, and a spoonful of yellow rice and beans. Happily, they relaxed with friends while listening to DJ Flow and Zeke blast a blend of hip-hop with bachata, meringue, and salsa music.
“It kind of brings me back to my roots because I am Hispanic,” said sophomore John Suarez.

What distinguished the block party from many parties on the strip was the Capoeira performance. Capoeira is a type of tribal dance that incorporates martial art movements developed by African slaves in Brazil.

According to, African’s created a way to practice martial arts by disguising it through dance, music, and singing.The sound of drums and the tambourine filled the air as dancers performed karate moves with bamboo sticks.
“I thought it was really unique and entertaining,” said sophomore Jennifer Hanna. “I haven’t seen it before on campus, so it’s pretty cool.”

Another distinction to be made is the significant amount of support LASO has received from the school administration, along with many cultural and Greek organizations as a key aspect to the events’ success.

“This year there is a lot more unity among different organizations,” said Pierina Santos, president of LASO. “It’s nice to know that Haraya has our back; CSA has our back, and we have theirs. It’s a big support system.”

Almost every other week during the summer, students met with Nashia Whittenberg , assistant director of Multicultural Affairs, and Noebeth Toro , Coordinator of Campus Activities, to plan this year’s Latino Heritage events.

Consequently, their hard work in paid off because a diverse crowd of students attended.

“This is kind of foreign to me,” said sophomore Kelley Franklin as she watched the Capoeira dancers twirl. “In high school, we had Culture Harmony day, but they left this aspect of Latino culture out. I knew nothing about this culture so it’s very interesting and it makes me want to find out more.”

Santos’ personal goals for the organization this year is to dispel some myths about Latinos and to hope that people learn more about her culture, and what it has to offer.

“I really want to change the way Latinos are perceived in general,” she said.

“We’re loud, you know and crazy…but we should [also] be perceived in another light, as in we’re smart, intelligent, ambitious,” she added.

“We want the best for ourselves and our families especially since many of us have immigrant parents who’ve sacrificed a lot for us.”

Santos is proud to share her heritage with her fellow students.
“I am very proud to be Latina,” said Santos about her Dominican roots. “We [LASO] will represent the community to the fullest this year, but we’ll do it in a way that I think will include everybody.”

LASO’s first general body meeting of the semester will take place this Thursday, September 18 at St. John’s Hall in room 311.

“Even though we are representing the Latino community,” said Santos.

“It will be great to do it with people from different backgrounds as well.”

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