Paola Cassana recognized a need for an organization that would bring Latin American students together when she first arrived on the Hill as part of the English as a Second Language Institute.
The senior from Cajam-arca, Peru, was the only Latin American student in the program.
Now, nearly four years later, Cassana said she has seen an upsurge of Latin American students.
In response, she has taken part in the creation of a new organization to fit that need.
The Latin American Stu-dent Association was created this semester to bring such students together and represent their needs.
Jeff Butterfield, chair of the computer information systems department and adviser of the organization, has previously managed manufacturing operations in Latin America.
“What we found was students from different countries didn’t know each other,” Butterfield said.
Michelle Brown, a senior from San Jose, Costa Rica, said the group has been planned for several semesters.
“It was something that was in a lot of Latin American students’ minds,” said Brown, who handles public relations for the group.
Non-Latin students are also welcome to the association, Brown said.
She said the organization is interested in sharing the variety of Latin American cultures by having different activities at some of the informal meetings, such as salsa dancing and going to local restaurants.
Along with including Western students in the organization’s activities, LASA has future plans to reach out to the growing Latin Amer-ican population in the community.
“Bowling Green is changing,” said Cassana, the LASA president.
Brown said the group hopes to encourage other Latin Americans to pursue higher education.
“A lot of people who currently are not in Western are not aware of the possibilities that are out there to go to college,” she said.
Butterfield said LASA is planning an alumni night to bring Latin American graduates back to Western.
“We want to make connections not only with Western students, but with alumni,” he said.
Robin Borczon, assistant director of the International Center, said there are about 40 students from Latin American right now.
Cassana said she hopes that the group will grow from 20 to 50 official members by next semester.
“Our focus is to expand their minds and share more of our culture in general,” she said.
Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected]