Student-run market to open Saturday

| Assignment Editor

Bowles Plaza will be bustling Saturday afternoon with performers from WUPops and Flamenco, Mariachi and Samba dancers, in celebration of the opening of El Mercado, a Latin-themed student-run market.

The Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) is coordinating El Mercado for the third year, after a one-year hiatus. Many other student groups will participate in the event, including Global Medical Brigades, Female Association of Business and Ashoka.

“The idea of really collaborating with as many student groups as possible across campus, bringing in many interests [is a benefit of El Mercado],” said Julia Macias, ALAS advisor, assistant director of campus life and assistant dean of the College of Art & Sciences.

Global Medical Brigades will be offering blood pressure checks, and other groups will be selling food.

In past years many student groups sold baked goods. But many groups will be selling restaurant food this year, due in large part to the University’s new ban on baking in dorms.

“I think it definitely takes away from [the event] just because a lot of the cultural groups…have to offer their own cultural dishes that you can’t really go out and buy,” said Edward Poyo, the coordinator for the event.

Local businesses such as Fitz’s, Blueberry Hill and Meshuggah’s are donating food for the event. Others are offering discounts to student groups.

“I’m hoping because of really good planning and outreach with different restaurants, it may not be the same things that the students will have created themselves, but [El Mercado] will still have neat and unusual things that you won’t get all the time, and we’re hoping it will be equally great,” Macias said.

Despite the food changes, Macias said he feels the spirit of El Mercado remains intact.

“The mission and the idea behind [El Mercado] is still the same,” Macias said. “It’s really promoting collaboration on campus, raising awareness and raising money for a really good cause.”

This year’s event will raise money to fund a Peace Corps project. ALAS is hoping that the fundraising will pay for stoves in Peru.

The idea to fund stoves comes from the experiences of 2008 alum Claudia Romeau.

Romeau is serving in the Peace Corps near Ancash, Peru. Upon arriving there, she realized that the absence of stoves in many households was the cause of several major, and fixable, problems. Families cook on the floor, which causes health and sanitation issues.  By installing a stove with a chimney, the fumes will go outside the house and the cooking will be more hygenic.

Since each stove costs only $50, Poyo anticipates that the event’s fundraising will make a big difference.

In past years El Mercado has raised almost $2,000. Macias hopes that this year’s event will raise similar amounts of money.

ALAS President Cristina Woodhouse said she feels that community service is an important aspect of this event. She said service is a new focus for ALAS this year.

“As a student group, it’s important to have events that impact our members, the WU community and WU staff, but it’s also something I think we should be trying to do to influence the [outer community],” said Woodhouse, a senior.