Many students came to the Cadena Center to attend the 10th annual Latinx forum on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Keynote speaker and former FC student Joann Lozano, discussed her background and the different struggles of Latinx students. Her goal is to motivate and to inspire other students through her own personal experiences with being a first generation Latina student.
After Lozano’s speech, facilitators were assigned to small groups to have peers engage with one another and connect through similar backgrounds and stories. The facilitators asked several questions to get students involved and feel comfortable with one another. Some questions students were asked were if they ever felt excluded from their culture.
One student, Andy Lopez felt this question struck close.
“I’ve felt excluded from my culture because of the color of my skin. I am 100% Hispanic, yet the color of my skin suggests that I am white. Other Hispanics see me and try to talk to me in English and I surprise them when I speak in Spanish.” said Lopez.
This conference served as an opportunity and a safe space for students to speak up on their thoughts about being part of the Latinx community in both positive and negative aspects.
“This forum is a way to create space for students to basically let out wheat they feel is necessary to have a better experience at their own college and their Latinx community as well. I hope they get a lot of feedback and knowledge from people who spoke today,” said Brandon Molina, one of the facilitators.
Personal stories were shared to bring attention to certain situations and feelings that students may have. Puente Club President, Jennave Valencia shared her own personal struggle that she is currently facing involving her being bicultural.
“I feel like I am not welcomed in both of the bicultural parts of myself. I am part of an American culture. I live here and that’s what I grew up with. I don’t fit in with them because they look at me as a brown girl. I am a Latina woman. In my Hispanic culture, I am looked at as a white girl and less of a Mexican than as anyone else is and the thing that determines that is the lack of my knowledge in a language and not being able to speak Spanish fluently.” said Valencia.
She added that languages shouldn’t determine whether or not a person is in tune with their culture and that individuals grow as they continue to learn more about their own culture.
“Your roots will always continue to grow, but where it all started is what matters,” said Valencia.
“We feel like there are things that need to be addressed in certain communities and it’s important to have forums like this to shed light on those issues and discuss as a community what needs to be done. Not only bringing awareness to those issues, but what we can do after this,” said Molina.
Students were also encouraged to attend other forums at the Cadena Center such as the African American forum, Asian/Pacific Islander forum and the LGBTQ forum. It is noted that these forums are open to anyone and everyone and serves as a way for students to discover more about a culture or to be more informed.