Student Organization of Latinos Celebrates Carnival and Retiring Adviser


Photo by Rowena Rambeau

Both students and their families capped the night off with hitting a piñata! Though instead of traditionally American candy, instead it stored candies native to Mexico.

  On March 2, the Student Organization of Latinos hosted their own Carnival at the University of Central Missouri in their ongoing mission to embrace Latino culture on campus. The party also doubled as a going away party for Sandra Merrill who is the adviser for SOL for one last semester before she retires after 25 years of teaching Spanish at UCM.

  The event began with a video that explained through a blend of colonial and native traditions, Carnival blossomed into a practice unique from Catholic-Europeans’ into what it is today. 

  Yoana Rafael is a senior international business student and the current president of SOL. Rafael said that Carnival is more widely known for taking place in Brazil, although other Latino countries also have celebrations. 

  “Each Latin country has their own version of celebrating Carnival, though they aren’t ever as big as Brazil’s,” Rafael said.

  Though, not all Latin American countries celebrate Carnival even if that is more common.

  “Actually, in Colombia, we don’t celebrate Carnival, but it’s celebrated in different parts of the world,” Merrill said.

  Rafael also explained that while Carnival is usually full of dancing and long partying, SOL focused on sharing the crafts, food and education of Carnival for an evening. Many tables were set up as different stations for completing art pieces. On one table there was masquerade mask decoration, on another a place for cutting up paper garlands, papel picado , and the last was for playing Mexican-styled bingo, loteria.

  “Loteria is very popular among the Mexican culture,” Merrill said. “So we always incorporate that in every activity SOL has. Though the students are from different parts of Latin America, they are not originally from there, but their parents are.”

  Junior interior design student Monze Barajas has been a member of SOL for three years, and explained that Carnival is celebrated in over 50 countries worldwide.

  “We celebrate it every year, and we also celebrate Hispanic heritage month every year,” Barajas said. “Every Wednesday we hang out and learn more about other cultures. You don’t have to speak Spanish or be Latino to be in SOL.”

  Sodexo was given a recipe by Merrill to cook traditional Carnival cuisine. A delicious tour of spiced rice, roasted chicken, a side of cooked plantains and cake were offered to the guests. The attendees ranged from SOL students and faculty to their extended family members.

  The festivities closed with a colorful llama piñata that was strung up to be opened. A song called “Dale, Dale, Dale” was played before children and adults took turns swinging for prizes to upbeat clapping and music. When the piñata was opened, the club began to clean up, and family members and faculty said their goodbyes to Sandra Merrill before she travels home to Colombia for the year to be with family and begin her retirement.

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  • Sandra Merrill takes her shot at the Carnival piñata as she celebrates for her retirement.

  • Various games and crafts were set up at various tables. This one was for cutting paper garlands and playing Mexican bingo while others were for making masks or other games.