Alianza Latina, the student-run Latine affinity group, hosted a faculty-student mixer on Saturday, October 8 to promote Latine culture and provide a safe space for the Latine community. A wide variety of attendees were present, including Dianne Domenech-Burgos, Chief of Staff and Assistant Head of School for Strategic Planning, and Camille Torres Hoven, Director of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL).
The event invited many Latine-identifying students and faculty with diverse backgrounds. Juliana Reyes ’24, a board member of Alianza Latina, explained the board’s goals when planning the mixer.
“The goal of the mixer is for Latine faculty and identifying students to have a chance to see the community at Andover. Sometimes it can seem that Andover doesn’t have much representation, and these mixers are for students to see that they can be supported by faculty, and see how many of your peers identify with you,” said Reyes.
Faculty members like Domenech-Burgos conveyed how important it was for her to represent Latine students and foster a sense of belonging for every student in the Andover community.
“I want people to see me as a role model, and make sure that they have representation. I am part of the administration so I feel like for them to be able to see that people like them are in charge of the school is empowering. For me, that’s a good thing. I want to make sure that every student, no matter what their background is, feels heard, accepted and valued. I feel like being a Latina woman helps,” said Domenech-Burgos.
Attendees were greeted with Latin music, dishes like rice and beans, and fun games like bingo. Latine students, faculty, and administrators had the opportunity to share their cultural experiences and learn more about different aspects of Latine culture. Leanny Lara Garcia ’24 expressed how the activities provided a great opportunity to talk to more Latine faculty. For Garcia, the mixer felt like a safe space to connect with faculty.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to connect with some of the faculty, because I can’t really recognize the [Latine] faculty walking around campus. It was nice to meet them and know who they are, but also make connections with the other students. There was food, which was great because I miss having food that is part of my culture outside of Commons,” said Lara Garcia.
Not only did attendees have a space to talk freely and enjoy Latin food, they also partook in a variety of symbolic activities. Reyes shared a specific activity Alianza Latina has done during their meetings.
“We have this yarn activity where everyone shares what their Latine affinity means to them, and we go around passing the yarn while still holding the string. At the end we can see how despite coming from different cultures and having different experiences, we are connected in some way shape or form,” Reyes said.
The impact that Alianza Latina leaves on the Andover community, with organized mixers and events, has affected students and faculty on campus in many ways. Anthony Diaz ’25 commented on how Alianza Latina is significant to all students on campus, Latine-identifying or not.
“I feel like this event is important to the Andover community because it shows some Latine culture to people who may not identify as [Latine]. It’s like they notice us, like ‘Hey we exist, let us share something that we have.’ For example music and dance, which is something that people relate to whether you are [Latine] or from a different culture, race, or ethnicity, ” Diaz said.
Domenech-Burgos also expressed her perspective on being a Latina faculty member, and the way she can work to prevent students in Andover who identify as Latine from feeling alone. She believes that events like the student-faculty mixer are crucial in letting students know that they belong.
“As a Latina who came to Andover 12 years ago, sometimes you feel like you don’t fit in, and I think Alianza helps students see faculty members that are like them, and know that they are not alone. This helps them talk to us, because we’ve been there and done that. It’s good to be able to reassure students that look like me that they do belong and that everything is going to be ok. The mixers and events help this cause,” said Domenech-Burgos.
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