Ajua Campos is shifting the focus of Latino Awareness Month this year, renaming the event Latin@ Affirmation Month for its twentieth anniversary.

“It has now developed into a month in which we are affirming our identities as the Latino students of this campus,” wrote Jasmin Rahman ’11, one of the members of Ajua Campos who organized the Month, in an e-mail to The Argus. “Latin@ Affirmation Month offers a venue for the Latin@ students, faculty, and staff to celebrate their collective culture as well as offer the greater Wesleyan community a chance to taste Latin@ culture.”

According to Associate Dean for International Student Affairs Alice Hadler, about nine percent of the student body identifies as Latin@, excluding the two to three international Latin@ students in each class. Latino Awareness Month was developed 20 years ago as a way to expose the campus to Latino culture. This year, however, the organizers decided to change the focus.

In addition to emphasizing the affirmation of identities, the change in the Month’s name is an effort to remove the original name’s association with gender.

“The @ symbol is supposed to encapsulate both the feminine and masculine components of the word Latino/Latina,” said Camilla Rodriguez ’11, a member of Ajua Campos. “Instead of dividing the two, or using the masculine ‘Latino’ to describe a general population, certain people have chosen to use the @ symbol.”

Lorena Estrella ’11 proposed the name change to Ajua Campos.

“This change was to start a conversation about gender and the fluidity of language,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “The change to Latin@ was an active way of combating the masculinity embedded in the Spanish language and in our collective histories. The use of Latin@ allows for the flexibility and multiplicity of identity which is a positive move in representing the many faces of Latin@s on campus.”

While the name of the Month has changed, the structure of the Month has largely remained the same.

“There are about 24 events taking place,” wrote event organizer Bulaong Ramiz ’11 in an e-mail to The Argus. “There are a variety of events including speakers, forums, discussion, parties, and our annual cultural show ‘Expresiones de Latin@s,’ which will be taking place Nov. 14 in Crowell.”

In an effort to further explore the Month’s new name, Visiting Instructor in English Albert S. Laguna facilitated a talk entitled “Where it’s @: A/O/@ Linguistic Representations of Gender and Ethnic Identity,” which focused on language’s role in forming the gender binary. The event was held on Nov. 6 in 200 Church.

Many of the students who have been involved with Ajua Campos over the years are enjoying being a part of the transitioning Latin@ month.
“I’ve been invested in Ajua Campos and the Month since freshman year, so this is something which holds great importance in my life,” Rodriguez said. “So far my experiences have been enlightening and entertaining.”

Upcoming events include Caliente Dance Lessons on Nov. 12 and Expresiones de Latin@s–followed by the Expresiones After Party—on Nov. 14. A full list of the events can be downloaded from the link: www.wesleyan.edu/stuact.

In honor of the organization’s fortieth anniversary, Ajua Campos’ 1969 founders will return to campus to discuss the organization’s history as well as contemporary Latin@ issues. This event will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 in the Woodhead Lounge.

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