The Latin American community at UofT

Defining diversity on campus and creating welcoming spaces that support multicultural communities is important to many students within the community of UofT. This is a beacon for The Organization of Latin American Students, better known as OLAS. OLAS represents all Latin American students on campus from Puerto Rico to Argentina, Brazil to Panama, and the dynamic each country shares in the name of unity.

The club takes pride in hosting social, academic, and athletic events to bring together the Latin community, and providing a space for non-Latin students to get involved and experience Latin culture. Social events include widely popular monthly pub nights with Latin music and food, salsa and bachata lessons, and cultural fairs. A staple of the Latin community, OLAS also runs soccer teams in intramurals and club tournaments.

As a Vic recognized club, OLAS often hosts events on Vic campus, whether it be comedy shows at the Cat’s Eye, academic panels in Old Vic, or even soccer games on Marg Ad field. Alex Bercik, OLAS Vice-President and Vic student, expressed a desire to see Vic students getting involved with the organization: “I remember attending my first event in first year after meeting my friend Gladis at Burwash who told me about OLAS. It was a great way to expand my horizons and make new friends at the same time.”

OLAS has been at UofT for over a decade, and 2017 marks a milestone as they launch their first ever undergraduate academic journal, KAWSAXCUNA (meaning: “Quality of Life” in Quechua), with support from the Latin American Studies program.

“We created the journal as a platform to share cultural ideas and foster an environment for a better understanding of the multiple languages, histories, and cultures of the intricate region of Latin America,” explained Cindy Pesantez, OLAS President. “This journal is the first of its kind at the University of Toronto and it welcomes all undergraduate and graduate students to participate—we want your input!” added Pesantez.

Information on OLAS events can be found on their Facebook page Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS St. George), the Facebook group OLAS (UofT Branch), and their website olasstgeorge1.wixsite.com/olas.