How to: Latinx at Dartmouth
There is an amazing amount of diversity at Dartmouth. As a student, you meet new people from around the world every day. I have friends on campus from Kenya, Australia, Taiwan, Alaska, and Hawai'i, just to name a few. There is no telling how valuable it is to learn from new people and their cultures, but at the same time, it is often nice to get back to your own once in a while. While Dartmouth is a relatively small school, there are many different clubs and ways to get involved in cultural celebrations and events that remind you of home. I am personally a Latina from Puerto Rico, and during my first year at Dartmouth, I was worried I would forget my Spanish, and I missed Latin food a lot. During my sophomore year, which has just ended - I am starting my sophomore summer now - I began searching for ways to stay connected to my Latinx heritage on a daily basis at Dartmouth.
The three best things I have found to remind me of home are living in the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean House (LALACS), joining the Latinx Heritage Month (LHM) planning committee, and, through these two, finding friends on campus who are Latinx and have similar lived experiences to me. LALACS is an LLC that is open to anyone who speaks Spanish, wants to improve their Spanish, is interested in learning about Latinx and Caribbean cultures, or is of Latinx and/or Caribbean heritage. LALACS is laid out like a normal house, instead of a dorm, with a full kitchen, living room, laundry room, dining room, and study space downstairs and students' rooms and bathrooms upstairs. There are house dinners every week where students cook Latinx/Caribbean food and hang out together, and a lot of Spanish speaking and music goes on. The hallways are decorated with the flags of Latinx/Caribbean countries and Latinx art. I love living in LALACS because I truly missed speaking and hearing Spanish at home all the time, and now I can speak Spanish to my housemates whenever I please. I love the feeling of community I get from knowing that nearly everyone living in LALACS knows what it's like to be living so far away from home in a culture that often feels drastically different.
While LALACS is a way for me to personally stay connected to my heritage, LHM planning committee is a way for me to show others how rich and diverse Latinx/Caribbean culture and food are. During Latinx Heritage Month in October, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership (OPAL), which is meant to foster inclusivity and acceptance on campus, puts on several events to celebrate Latinx heritage in conjunction with several other clubs and groups on campus, including the Latinx living-learning communities. The events include Latinx speakers, barbeques, concerts, and a gala with dancing and a live band. It has been so much fun to plan events to show the rest of campus all the things I grew up listening to, dancing to, and eating. Of course, through LALACS and LHM, I have made so many new Latinx friends on campus who are just as interested in honoring, celebrating, and maintaining their heritage as I am. If you are of Latinx or Caribbean descent, want to learn more about it, or simply think it sounds like fun (it is!), Dartmouth's Latinx community will welcome you with open arms!