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Joining in the celebrations of Mes de la Raza, the Pan-American Latino Society hosted its sixth annual Conferencia Cultural, a week-long event sharing different aspects of Latino culture with the greater UCI community.
Kicking off the festivities, the club hosted an opening ceremony on May 17 at Monarch Bay in the Student Center.
Open to all interested in attending, the ceremony offered free food, entertainment and a special guest speaker.
After a brief greeting and summarization of the week’s events, PALS President Eric Reguiero and Event Coordinator Mardestinee Perez introduced Kathleen Canul, the evening’s keynote speaker and university ombudsman.
Entitled ‘Discovering Who We Are: Latinos of Today,’ Canul’s presentation discussed important characteristics of the modern Latino community, its diversity and the common issues faced by its members.
Canul began by referring to her own life and experiences, using her family and cultural heritage as a framework for the discussion of the variety of Latino identities present in modern society.
‘I am the daughter of a mother from Zacatecas, Mexico, a culture in itself,’ Canul said as she emphasized the diversity represented by Latinos.
‘We are a mixture of many cultures,’ Canul said.
Aside from issues of identity, Canul also discussed socio-political issues often associated with Latinos such as a slow acculturation rate.
‘Slow acculturation is not a bad thing. To deny one’s roots and cultural heritage is almost to deny a part of the body,’ Canul said.
Canul’s speech was followed by a performance by Paleros, UCI’s salsa and merengue dance team and a brief slideshow commemorating PALS’s 10th birthday.
On May 18, PALS hosted an event entitled ‘Let’s Talk about Sexo’ at Emerald Bay at the Student Center.
Running from 5 to 7 p.m., the event discussed the presence and significance of sex in Latino culture.
Moving into May 19, the club offered the Museo De Las Americas on display in the Cross Cultural Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Free and open to the public, the event was an exhibit presenting information and facts about a wide range of Latin American countries.
Aside from the display of each nation’s flag, items unique to each country’s individual culture were also shown.
These items ranged from native musical instruments to different types of dishes.
Many students found the displays to be both unique and interesting.
‘I had never known where some of these items had originated from,’ said Rohmel Reynoso, a second-year studio arts major as he glanced over a table of traditional Brazilian instruments.
On May 20, PALS hosted ‘Tropical Thursday’ at the Student Center Terrace.
Held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the event was a bit different from the weekly Tropical Tuesdays event normally hosted by the club on Tuesday nights, which provides free salsa lessons to attendees.
While some dance lessons were still provided, the event’s primary focus was on presenting and teaching the historic origins of salsa music to those in attendance.
PALS hosted its final event of the week, ‘Today’s Fiesta’ dance on May 2.
Held at the Student Center Terrace from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., the event invited students to gather and dance to a wide range of hip-hop, salsa and merengue beats.
Reflecting on the success of the week’s events, many were pleased.
‘The goal of Conferencia was to educate others about Latino culture through fun activities. I think we accomplished this goal successfully,’ said Annie Rodriguez, a second-year social ecology major and PALS board member.

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