Alianza Latina Celebrates Individual Identities through a Cultural Affinity Space

Alianza Latina, the Latinx affinity space on campus, offered salsa and reggaeton music blaring from Gelb Tent on Saturday and warm pastelitos on Sunday afternoon for a Latinx student-faculty brunch. Select members additionally led a Catholic mass on Sunday evening partially in Spanish. All of these events this past weekend were part of “Latin Arts Weekend,” an annual event organized by Alianza for Latinx Legacy Month. However, Alianza functions throughout all months of the school year, hosting discussions, movie nights, and celebrations for the Latinx population on campus.

The board includes 8 members: Co-Presidents John Sanchez ’23, Melanie Garcia ’22, board members Emiliano Cáceres Manzano ’22, Emelia Fonseca ’22, Fred Javier ’23, Kianna Jean-Francois ’23, Julia Carmona ’24, and Cristina Donovan ’24. The board contains members with ethnic ties to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, and Peru.

September 15 to October 15 marks an official month to celebrate Latinx identities and cultures. In the past, it has been referred to as Hispanic Heritage Month, however this year Alianza renamed the month Latinx Legacy Month. Jean-Francois explained the reasoning behind the change.

“We wanted to change Latinx or Hispanic Heritage Month to ‘Latinx Legacy Month’ because so much of what we do here is only because of those that came before us. We’re only able to do what we do because the Latinx people who came before us made sure to pave the way and they worked hard to leave something behind for us to build off of and we have to be grateful for that, we have to acknowledge that, and we also have to remain aware that we are going to be those people someday,” Jean-Francois said.

This month to celebrate Latinx Legacy Month, Alianza hosted frequent open-door meetings, and they will continue to hold weekly meetings in CaMD for Latinx students as the month ends.

To some members, Alianza offers a sense of familiarity and support among others. Co-President Garcia was inspired to join the affinity space because she longed for the same community she had at her home in Lawrence, MA.

“I joined Alianza Latina hoping to find a space where I could be in community with other Latinx people on campus. As a Dominican from Lawrence, Massachusetts, I’m used to being immersed in my culture, and Alianza is a space where I can find it again,” Garcia wrote in an email to The Phillipian.

While Alianza may offer a sense of familiarity through aspects of shared culture, members also highlight and support each other’s differences. Co-President Sanchez attributed the community within Alianza to the understanding of intergenerational experiences.

“We [Latinx people] are one big community with a lot of different identities but we come together under the sense that society views us in a certain way and we all feel that pressure and that we’re—I wouldn’t say ‘different’—but we’re viewed as not as valuable as, say, white cisgender men… Alianza is just like a place where you feel comfortable and there’s a bunch of loving people who are very understanding of intergenerational stuff, in any context. Intergenerational trauma, intergenerational stories, lessons, and stuff,” Sanchez said.

In addition to many members enjoying the cultural celebrations that Alianza has held over the course of the month, others also acknowledged the multi-faceted experiences that are part of their identities. Fonesca recognizes the multiple layers of her Latinidad from food and music to facing cultural resistance.

“I think, one of the strongest topics of my Latinidad that has been present in my life is just culture in general. Because like, in Alianza Latina meetings we talk a lot about food and music and stuff that brings us happiness, and I really identify with that. And it has also to do with resistance because the situation of Latinx people in this country is very complicated. And now that I’m here and I’m seeing all these news articles about Brazilians dying at the U.S.-Mexico border, it hits really different because it’s much closer to me,” said Fonesca.

In addition to hosting events on campus, Alianza also provides a critical space for Latinx students to explore their culture and ethnicity. Donovan reflected on why they believe affinity spaces like Alianza are important to Andover.

“I mean, Andover is a predominantly white institution, so it’s important to make space for people of color on campus and Latin people who are often invisible on this campus. And it’s a really good environment too,” Donovan said.

Garcia assured that all Latinx students are welcome to the affinity group meetings, regardless of experience with culture or place of origin. She affirmed that as long as students identify as Latinx, they are welcomed to the meetings.

“If you’re a Latinx or Latino or Latina student reading this, come find one of us and join the email list! It’s a safe space for ALL Latinx students, and we mean ALL of them! If you’re scared you won’t belong, don’t be. We will welcome you!” She wrote.latin