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The Scarlet & Black

SOL spends time in the sol

By Lisa Oyolu

The Student Organization of Latinos and Latinas, more commonly known as SOL, took a retreat on Saturday, Oct. 5 to Merrill Park, just north of campus. Although they didn’t travel far, the 15 members and officers in attendance were able to come together as a group.

“The retreat’s purpose was mostly to get the cabinet members more united and allow them to know each other better. We played ice breakers, games and had discussion to better understand each other,” said Martin Estrada ’15, SOL Treasurer.

SOL, which has existed on campus for about a decade and boasts the highest membership of the multicultural organizations sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Engagement and Leadership, provides students with a means of celebrating their culture on campus, while also serving the greater Iowa community.

The Dia de Muertos altar displayed in the JRC. Photo by John Brady.
The Dia de Muertos altar displayed in the JRC. Photo by John Brady.

“We basically want to contribute our culture [and] our backgrounds to the campus by bringing diversity,” said Tanya Santiago ’14, a SOL co-leader. “We also want to work with the Latino community—both in Grinnell and in Iowa as a whole, because we have expanded to Tama now and we are helping some Latino groups there.”

Considering the organization’s purpose, it is fitting that students engaged in discussion centered upon the theme of “What it means to be Latino in Grinnell” during the weekend retreat. The SOL members shared personal stories about both themselves and their families, all of which demonstrated the wide range of their experiences and allowed the members to connect better with one another. They discussed the positive and negative implications of their backgrounds on their lives at Grinnell, how their families and communities perceived them as Grinnell College students and how their cultural heritage has provided them with unique perspectives at the College.

The discussion was fluid and expressed the vastness of the differences amongst the students’ experiences both in and outside of Grinnell. Elaborating upon the purpose of the retreat, Santiago described some of the key areas of discussion.

“How has your background influenced your studies here? How has it influenced your interactions with other students and professors here,” she said. “And we’re not only talking about Latino heritage. We’re also talking about socioeconomic background—people came from different places, so it really plays into how we adapt ourselves here.”

In addition to conversations like these, the SOL retreat also focused on determining initiatives for the organization, such as creating more unity amongst its membership, particularly with upperclassmen and new members.

At the retreat, members also discussed ways to connect with some of the other organizations on campus and become more visible in the community. They began planning for upcoming events and also discussed strategies to inform the campus community about Latin American culture. As part of this effort, SOL will host two upcoming events: the Latin American Festival and their celebration of Día de Muertos—Day of the Dead.

Día de Muertos, which takes place from Thursday, Oct. 31 to Saturday, Nov. 2, is a Mexican holiday to commemorate friends and loved ones who have passed away. In honor of the holiday, today and tomorrow there will be an altar in the lobby of the JRC as a tribute to these individuals.

SOL’s most popular annual event, the Latin American Festival, will be held on Friday, Nov. 15. The festival aims to teach the campus community about Latino culture, and this year it will feature numerous interesting acts, including an acrobatic dance group and performances by various SOL members.

Additionally, SOL also plans to continue partnering with La Cabaña to host Salsa Nights, a fun chance for attendees to get off campus and learn to salsa dance.

All students and community members are invited to join in these festivities. For more information on how to get involved with the Student Organization of Latinos and Latinas, email [sol].

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