LAHSO members discuss cultural identity during annual sleepover

Hannah Han

The Latin American and Hispanic Student Organization (LAHSO) hosted its first fall sleepover from Nov. 22 to 23, during which upper school students discussed their experiences as people of color on campus and engaged in team bonding activities.

Students given opportunity to talk about cultural identity in a safe environment

LAHSO leader Diana Castellanos ’20 said the affinity group began planning for the sleepover in early November and aimed to provide attendees with a space to interact with other Latinx and Hispanic students outside of LAHSO’s weekly in-school meetings.

“We knew we wanted to an early sleepover this year so that we could start off the club right to make sure that our members were comfortable with each other,” Castellanos said. “I really hope that they feel more comfortable and that that bond will allow us to have deeper conversations during our Monday meeting time.”

LAHSO members bond over discussions and dancing

During the sleepover, attendees danced to Latin music and participated in a series of icebreakers and leadership activities in order to foster a sense of community and solidarity among the students, Castellanos said. Additionally, faculty sponsor and upper school dean Celso Cardenas said participants engaged in an unsupervised, student-led conversation about their individual experiences as Hispanic and Latinx individuals at the school.

“The chaperones aren’t in that space while the students are having their conversation, so it’s really great because [the students] can be honest and vulnerable with one another,” Cardenas said. “It can be emotional, and there can be tears, but it can be a really great space for them to get things off their chests. While I wasn’t there to observe it, I heard that that went really well and that students pushed themselves to share.”

Participants form close bonds over shared experiences

Attendee Sarah Rivera ’21 said she most enjoyed participating in a Zumba dance with other members of LAHSO, as it allowed her to forge friendships with students that she did not usually interact with on campus.

“One of the most exciting moments at the sleepover happened in the middle of the night when we gathered to play Zumba, which was really fun because no one really cared that you were dancing,” Rivera said. “We all got a dance partner, who was someone in LAHSO that [we] don’t know very well, but by the end, we were all good friends.”