By Kristen McLaughlin, Texas State RRC Graduate Research Assistant

I have had the pleasure of working on the communications team for Lazos 2012, an event which celebrates students and filmmakers from the U.S. and countries in Latin America. This year’s theme is “Embracing Latinidad”.

Not only have I had the opportunity to be on the student communications team for the event this semester as a part of our class, but I will see the event come to fruition this today, April 27 at Texas State University-San Marcos in the LBJ Student Center Ballroom from 7-10 p.m. Thanks to El Centro (the Center for the study of Latino Media & Markets), student organizations and community sponsors, the event is free. However, registration was required for the event.

This is only the second year for Lazos, but we anticipate a good turnout. Lazos is the closing ceremony for Puntos De Vista, a Latin documentary competition which involves students from Colombia, Peru, Spain, Mexico, Chile and the U.S. The students participating in the competition will find out their ranking at the awards ceremony at Lazos. This year’s film festival included 14 documentaries by students in the participating countries. Student filmmakers will be honored at Lazos.

In addition to awarding students, Lazos will include special entertainment from Texas State’s Mariachi Nueva Generacion as well as Salsa and Latin Jazz Ensembles Salsa del Rio and Orquesta del Rio. Salsa del Rio was the first Latin Jazz Ensemble created at Texas State. The group is dedicated to the performance of music from Latin America, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic and Mexico. Orquesta del Rio also focuses on music from these countries. Popular styles include Mambo, Son-Montuno, Cha Cha, Bolero and Morengue.

The student group Mariachi Nueva Generacion, also a Texas State student group, performs the Mexican art form known as Mariachi. They perform many different styles, including Huapango, Bolero, Polka and many others.

The student communications team included myself and three of my graduate student peers (Shannon Delaney, Eileen Suarez and Doug Seliger), but so many others have spent months coordinating this event and Puntos De Vista. Organizing Lazos was an idea that professors Dr. Sindy Chapa and Olga Mayoral-Wilson thought of when they were brainstorming about Puntos De Vista.  Students from organizations and student workers at El Centro have eagerly assisted them with both Lazos and Puntos De Vista.

This year’s Lazos event is being co-hosted by the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc.

“To be a part of an event such as Lazos has meant a lot to Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc,” said Catherine Arriaza-Ortiz, SIA treasurer and Lazos committee member.

Other organizations and departments are also participating in the event, including Alpha Upsilon SIA, Ballet Folklorico, Communication Disorder Bilingual Cognate, Latinas Unidas, Love Across Borders, LULAC, Sigma Delta Pi, the Texas State Sociology Department, and the Texas State International Student Association.

Lazos participants will be able to learn from Keynote Speaker Robert Bard, the CEO of Latina Style Magazine. In his 11 years leading the company, he has developed four signature programs. These include the LATINA Style Business Series, the most successful ongoing business development program for Latina business owners in the nation; the LATINA Style 50 Awards and Diversity Leaders Conference, reporting on the top 50 companies for Latinas to work for in the U.S.; the National LATINA Symposium recognizing Latina achievement in all areas and professions; and the Distinguished Military Service Awards, honoring outstanding Latinas for their military Service.

For those who want to learn from accomplished professionals such as Bard and celebrate student filmmakers, Lazos is the perfect way to end the semester. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Hope to see you tonight!