OLAS Celebrates Costa Rica At Noche De Gala
Jeff Lamson – Special to the Southern News
A night of dancing, music, food and fun was had at Noche De Gala: Costa Rica: Festival de La Luz. Southern’s Organization of Latin American Students celebrated the culture of Costa Rica while also giving back to the Latin American community.
OLAS succeeded in filling the entire Adanti Student Center Ballroom for this annual semi-formal evening. The attendees were treated to an educational, but mostly fun event featuring the Costa Rican national anthem, a DJ, dance performances and a performance by two OLAS members on piano and vocals in honor of Puerto Rican hurricane victims.
“It’s a party with a purpose,” said OLAS faculty advisor, Anna Rivera-Alfaro who has been working with this project for nearly a decade.
Rivera-Alfaro went on to stress the importance of the OLAS members themselves, saying, “The students plan all this, I’m just the advisor.”
Rivera-Alfaro handles many of the background organization like submitting and filling out the appropriate paperwork so the students can freely plan Noche De Gala.
When asked about why Costa Rica was chosen, OLAS President and senior, Anthony Deleon said, “Because a lot of people don’t really know about the whole culture. I know I learned a lot about the country, and hopefully the students did too.”
Celebrating Costa Rica proved to be quite difficult, however; there are not any restaurants serving Costa Rican food in close proximity to Southern. Rivera-Alfaro assured that the food is similar enough to other Latin American countries so that OLAS was able to get a local restaurant to cater Noche De Gala providing the staples of rice and beans along with beef or chicken.
As this is the biggest and most popular event that the 25-member organization orchestrates every year, it requires a lot of hard work and planning. It is open to all students as well as faculty and guests from off campus, with dozens of attendees being from Eastern Connecticut State University and Gateway Community College.
The purpose of all of this effort is to aid the event’s end goal of funding two $1000 scholarships for Latin American students. And in the occurrence of extra funds, the excess is donated to the community. Last year, the most successful by far, in which OLAS honored Ecuador and raised approximately $4,000, the extra money was donated to Ecuador earthquake relief. This year, any excess will be sent to help either Mexico for earthquake relief or Puerto Rico for hurricane relief. Alongside this effort to reach out to the community, OLAS itself like the sense of community and inclusiveness. Chelsey Cerrato, head of public relations for OLAS and sophomore, shared her favorite part of Noche de Gala.
“[It is] all of us coming together and setting up. It’s just a huge accomplishment,” said Cerrato.
“Whoever doesn’t make it this year, don’t miss next year,” said Rivera-Alfaro. “Come join us whether you like the language, or the food or the culture.”
Photo Credit: Jeff Lamson