For the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), a little celebration was a lot overdue.
After having their events cancelled last spring due to COVID-19, OLAS, led by Secretary Estefania Narvaez, has made strides to drum up engagement and create programming that is exciting.
“The OLAS [board] worked together to come up with events … it was a lot of work. We gather all together and come up with ideas to do diversity and inclusion on campus … and to get the Class of 2024 involved,” Narvaez said.
So far, these efforts to engage the Class of 2024 have been wildly successful.
“We had the most people attend our interest meeting [ever] at the beginning of the year. I think at this point the Class of 2024 would be considered the most involved,” Narvaez said.
This may be due in part to a new mentorship program for incoming students sponsored by OLAS, which aims to connect members of the Class of 2024 with upperclassmen.
“The people in the Class of 2024 [had] the chance to meet upperclassmen not through the phone or through Zoom but also in person to get to know them,” Narvaez said.
OLAS has also seen a sizable level of interest in their events this month. At Churros! — where OLAS members handed out churros and horchata, a Mexican drink — and Trivia Night in September, combined participation reached 75 students.
Thursday night, Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m., OLAS will have their annual Fiesta at the Davis Field Tents. Partygoers will be partitioned off into groups of 25 in order to comply with North Carolina’s COVID-19 guidelines.
“This is a really big deal for OLAS … we’re trying to have … different kinds of food from all around Latin America, so we’re going to have plates with tacos, something called gorditas and then pupusas, so that’s from Mexican food, Hondurian food and then Salvadorian food,” Narvaez said. This event is one that Narvaez is most excited for.
OLAS has put in a lot of effort to ensure their signature event could still go off.
“[Fiesta on the Quad] had to be minimized so that it could meet the state guidelines of 25 or less people, so OLAS has worked closely with our event staff at the university to ensure that the event would be in compliance but to still have it in person,” said Executive Director of the Intercultural Center Jonathan McElderry, who advises OLAS. RSVPs will be needed to sign up for the event.
OLAS will also host a movie night on Sunday, Oct. 4 to celebrate Latin American film. This event was moved from its original date this Friday due to the football game.
In terms of navigating COVID-19, OLAS has faced challenges. It has had to move its weekly meetings from Luter to Zoom, and it has also decreased the frequency of its meetings.
“For [our board] it’s been really hard because we used to meet in Benson or [the lounge in Luter] and now we have to coordinate … online through Zoom,” Narvaez said.
Narvaez, however, says her club has gotten a lot of support from the IC, especially from McElderry.
“[McElderry has] been really really helpful, especially in helping us make the best decisions in terms of the COVID guidelines,” Narvaez said.
There will also be a conversation about the political power of the Latinx community that will cap off the month’s festivities. That event will take place virtually on Oct. 14 at 4 p.m.