By: Jacqui Wiens

“This was the first time I met people from my language.”

It was said by second-year computer programming student Cristian Salinas after the first meeting of the Latin America club.

“Normally you hear more Chinese, more Arabic, but you don’t see lots of Latin guys. It’s good to hear things in your language instead of English only,” said Salinas.

The attendees in the Student Commons were all very excited about finally having a group of their own.Lucas Capalbo, the club’s organizer, noticed that there were a lot of school groups related to countries and cultures, but nothing specifically for Latin American peoples.

With support from the Algonquin Student’s Association, Capalbo decided to change that.

“You know when you see that a lot of people are doing things for their community, but I see my community is stuck and I thought maybe we can do something with our people.

“I think we have a lot to learn here and we have a lot to add to our community,” he said.

As this was their inaugural meeting, most of the time was dedicated to just getting to know each other and sharing ideas with the group about what the Latin America

club should be focused on. Salinas said that he would like to see the club branch out a bit.

“Not only just the regular meetings but maybe some parties,” Salinas said. “More like us. Because we like parties, we like to dance. You know, we have hot blood so we want to show it.”

The club attracted people from outside Algonquin as well. Ana Perez initially came to Canada in 2007 to study English.
“I just love it. I felt like I had to come back, that’s why I chose Canada for my masters. I’m studying Electrical engineering at [the University of Ottawa],” Perez said. “I’ve been in Ottawa for already two years and I haven’t met a lot of people from Latin America. I think it’s a good experience to meet people who speak the same language.”

Not everyone has quite the same favourable opinion of Canada though.

“My experience in Canada is sweet and sour,” said Salinas. “The weather, it’s okay for me; it’s the people that are the problem. It’s not [that I] don’t like [them], they are so different. Every time I want to go somewhere with my classmates they say no, too cold, no too far, not cheap, stuff like that. But if I said something like that [in Chile] it’s always yes.”

Perez wants people to learn more about other Latin American cultures through the club.

“Even when we speak the same language we have completely different traditions and things like that,” she said.
The club isn’t just about sharing a language though. Capalbo says the club is for everyone who is interested in Latin American culture.

“We want people to have fun, to try to talk about the main issues of Latin American [people]. Try to bring Latin American things – good things – to Canada and try to take good things from Canada to Latin America,” he said.