Club Spotlight: Latin American Students and Friends

By Sheena Segun-Oye

Features Contributor

A lot of new clubs have been showing up on our campus recently, but interestingly enough, the Latin American Students and Friends (LASAF) club isn’t one of them.

LASAF has been around Canisius since the 1980s but became inactive due to lack of members. In the spring of 2015, LASAF kicked off again. Granted, it wasn’t easy at first, but once the members had the common goal of creating a place for Latinos in a home away from home and picked up what it meant to be leaders, the club had created its own success story -along with its own clubroom. “We’re proud of what we do,” says Alexa Valdez, co-president of LASAF. 

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LASAF celebrates Dia de Los Muertos / Sheena Segun-Oye

LASAF is a club built on the foundation of fighting adversity and is not just for Latinos, but for everyone in the Canisius community. The club is involved with many current events including raising awareness about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), hurricane relief through collection and donation of clothes, toiletries, and hosting of various events.

On the 17th of October, LASAF, in collaboration with ALANA Student Center, sponsored the ‘Latin American Heritage Soup with Substance’ program by inviting Dr. Nicole Hallett, a lawyer and Professor at the University of Buffalo to come here to Canisius to speak to students on DACA. Hallett educated Canisius students on what DACA was and what DACA being taken away meant. Valdez expressed her feelings on the event saying, “It was good to know that Canisius let someone come talk to us. At LASAF, we care. We’re dedicated to touching everything that’s happening.”

LASAF is constantly coming up with events to create awareness for unity among Latin Americans, and not just focus on the countries where its members come from.

They host cultural games on campus such as Mexican Bingo, Dominoes, and many more. Spanish professors suggest LASAF events for their students due to the many deep and sensitive talks on the culture, the immigration process, and what it means to be a Latin American.

Last night, LASAF hosted the annual Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) event. This is an event that’s celebrated in Latin America – a traditional holiday. It’s only like Halloween in the sense that there are pumpkins, but it’s different in the fact that it has it’s own unique origin and story. This event is brought to Canisius for people to relax and learn about the culture in an educated but not intense way.

Education Week is coming up with a special event from LASAF called ‘Crossing Borders,’ which aims to inform our community on how it feels when people tell non-citizens to ‘just get a visa’; the event invites us to step into someone else’s shoes and see that it really isn’t easy to be an immigrant, especially attaining legal citizenship. LASAF will also be partnering with the Commuter Students Association for Hot Chocolate and Chili Night.

Amidst all this, however, members share their deep concern on the future of LASAF due to its low member numbers. Valdez voices, “We don’t know the ratio of Latin Americans on campus. It’s hard because they feel uncomfortable. We want them to come to us because they feel comfortable, like being here, and know we are here for them. I just hope they have the same love and passion for LASAF as we do.”

You do not have to be a Latino to be member of LASAF. The club is very affiliated, diverse, open, and urges people to come learn about them. After all, it’s called Latin American Students AND Friends for a reason.

 

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