Culture, music and leadership highlight second annual ALAS conference

In 90 minutes, one could have witnessed the romance of Tango in Argentina, the art of Capoeira in the jungles of Brazil and experienced Mexican folklore in Veracruz.

These events occurred as part of the Association of Latin American Students’ second annual leadership conference, held March 15 and 16 in the Student Union.

College and high school students were invited to the conference. Hispanic student organizations from regional colleges such as University of Missouri – Columbia and Emporia State University attended as well.

The conference opened Friday evening with nationally recognized speaker Mena Badros. Badros, an executive for CoolSpeak, is a youth motivational speaker and program facilitator. Badros’s most important lesson is, “Life is to live.”

He spoke of pursuing his second chance at life in the United States after living a disease-stricken life in Africa. His focus was to live with a purpose and to utilize the opportunities America has to offer. The night ended with a fiesta hosted by a local Latin club D.J.

Saturday morning, participants attended workshops focused on leadership, teamwork and professional etiquette. ALAS officers Ivan Figueroa, Brittany Murphy and Angelica Beltran held a workshop that helped inform high school attendees about college.

Saturday afternoon at the cultural show, students and community members took a journey through various Latin American rituals, dances and music.

Along with local bands and dance academies, UMKC students performed in the cultural show.

UMKC professor Xanath Caraza introduced the cultural show by sharing poems that reflected on her experience of immigrating to the United States from Mexico.

She emphasized that Latin American culture is integrated in many aspects of American culture and is thriving in our local community.

Idaima Calderon and Martice Baskerville danced bachata, and junior Andres Chaurand, and seniors Aniseto Herrera and Anna Jobe danced Mexican folklore.

Afterwards, Adrienne Foster, Mayor of Roeland Park, Kan., shared her story of being the first of a large hispanic family to go to college.

The conference provided students with the skills and inspiration to motivate them to reach their true potential.

jpoppel@unews.com

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