LASO and Tredecim Honor Society Host Spanish-Language Events for Family Weekend

This past weekend, Colgate welcomed parents and families to campus for the annual Family Weekend. The weekend included many Colgate-sponsored events, including sports games, food trucks, and other festivities for families and students to attend. The Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and the Tredecim Honor Society were involved in the weekend as they put together and co-sponsored “Celebracion Familiar”  at La Casa Pan-Latina America at 94 Broad Street on the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 22. 

The event included food, drinks, dancing, music and games that were all in celebration of the end of Latinx Heritage month, which lasted from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. The event was open to everyone, not just Latinx/e-identifying or Spanish-speaking students, and worked to appreciate the unity of Latinx, Spanish-speaking, and first-generation families along with the rest of the Colgate community. 

Senior Kathy Bertrand Ortiz, who was involved with planning Celebración Familiar, was very happy with the outcome of the event as well as the inclusivity that could clearly be felt by all attendees — students and professors alike. 

I would consider [Celebracion Familiar] a major success as people have expressed to both organizations that the event brought them a place of comfort and warmth of family and most importantly belonging (even professors and faculty whom you wouldn’t normally think needed a space to feel comfortable in expressed that they too felt a breath of fresh air with an event like this),” Ortiz said. “The event was attended by many individuals from all identities who throughout the four hours of the event enjoyed the dancing, performances, food, beverages, and conversation with families, faculty, staff and many other people”.

Senior Ashley Orozco, co-president of LASO, helped with the planning of the event and hopes that it will become a tradition.

“Celebracíon Familiar was intended to create a space where Latinx/e families felt represented on campus during Family Weekend and where all those interested in Latinx/e culture were welcomed to gather in celebration of the end of Latinx/e heritage month,” Orozco said. “Students, faculty, and their beautiful familias gathered for an event that celebrated all identities and honored Latinx/e culture through food, dancing, face painting, cookie decorating, performances and much more. The event brought joy to people all across the Colgate community, hopefully marking the start of a new tradition.”

The celebration at La Casa was especially important this year as it allowed for families of immigrants and non-English speakers to feel welcomed on Colgate’s campus — especially during Family Weekend, a time when all families should feel welcome at the University. This event was especially meaningful to Ortiz for this reason. 

“This event, on a personal level, was greatly needed. It came to my attention that my family specifically had not attended family weekend because there was not an event where their language was spoken or they would encounter other minorities to interact and relate to through conversation and be able to do so comfortably,” Ortiz said. “Many of our families are immigrants and non-native English speakers, so events that are majority in English or that don’t understand cultural values that they have [on campus] may make them feel out of place. With this event, we wanted to change that […] As students, a space that makes our families feel welcome is a space where we are welcome.”

Ortiz explained that even though there have been similar Spanish-speaking events on campus during Family Weekend in the past, it has not been a steady tradition. Like Orozco, Ortiz hopes that Celebración Familiar becomes a new tradition for Family Weekend and beyond. 

“Many years back, there was an event that was called Hora de La Familia, which for unknown reasons to me, did not continue to happen during Family Weekend […] Hopefully, this event will become an annual event on Family Weekend. Many expressed that an event like this is very much needed during important dates like Graduation to celebrate and create comfortable spaces for individuals of all identities,” Ortiz said.

One of the most essential parts of the celebration was the showcase of Latinx/e cuisine, which was enjoyed by many.

“The event featured food including Arroz Amarillo, Frijoles, Pernil, Carne Guisada, Pollo a la Plancha, Pupusas de Chicharrón y Queso y de Frijol y Queso, Maduro, Mole Ranchero, Enchiladas Suizas, Verdes, y Poblanas, Tamales de Pollo, Fajitas de Vegetales y Ensalada de Papa. Beverages included homemade atole de elote, Jamaica, y Ensalada de Fruta. LASO’s very own members made Tres Leches and Cheesecake for Dessert. The Latinx/e cuisine is one of the core cultural aspects that needed to be showcased,” Ortiz said. 

First year Ximena Aranda was also impressed by the food at the event and was excited to be at a place on campus that resembled both her culture and her home. 

“From the beginning, everyone was so welcoming and the food was amazing; definitely the star of [the] night. Being surrounded by so many familiar aspects that not only resembled home (Texas) but also my culture felt like a breath of fresh air,” Aranda said. “As people kept arriving the crowd became larger and between new and familiar faces I could see that this event, Celebración Familiar, had accomplished its goal to give the Hispanic-Latino community a place where they could identify with their roots and show the beauty of our cultures to the rest of the Colgate community.”