Moving to Indiana three years ago was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Why? Well, for starters I was leaving New York City for a Midwestern town. I was entering a place that didn’t have bodegas (corner stores) in every corner, amazing NY style pizza, or subway stations. But what scared me the most was that I wouldn’t find the same kind of diversity I was accustomed to in NY and I was right. However, I did find a supportive Latin@ community both at IU and in the greater Bloomington community!
Being part of a Latin@ community was very important to me and so the moment I arrived at IU I immediately went to La Casa, the Latino Cultural Center. I was introduced to the small but growing number of Latin@s at IU. I decided to join the Latino Graduate Student Association (LGSA) my first year and am still active to do this day…
LGSA seeks to enhance the Latin@ campus experience by providing an environment that facilitates the retention of our memebers in graduate programs, through academic and social activities. We also strive to develop a network that includes all memebers of the Bloomington community.
One of our annual events that we hold is called Nuestras Raices. This event offers people the space and opportunity to share stories about their life while we indulge in delicious treats. In the past years we’ve had people from all backgrounds come and share their roots with us. People bring photos, books, and blankets. They also sing songs or recite poetry. One of my favorite moments was when a friend of mine “introduced” her family to us by explaining what she characteristics she admires from each of them.
We also partner with the Latino Faculty and Staff Council (LFASC) to hold events such as our End of the Year celebrations but meet on a monthly basis to keep our community strong. Through the Latin@ luncheons we meet Latin@s from all over campus and create long lasting relationships. Many faculty and graduate students that have met at these luncheons now work together in some academic or community project. I myself have had the opportunity to help a professor from the School of Education with her own research project on Latin@ identity! It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet people outside of your department.
The LGSA board is working hard this semester to plan next year’s events, including working with LFASC,other identity-based graduate and undergraduate organizations, and the Bloomington community. So if you come to IU make sure to connect with LGSA. We love to meet new people!