c/o Kimberly Sanchez

c/o Kimberly Sanchez

Every October, the University community comes together to celebrate Latine Affirmation Month (LAM) with a variety of events, performances, and initiatives. This year’s festivities began on Friday, Sept. 29, and concluded on Thursday, Nov. 2, with an emphasis on the diversity of Latine identities on campus. Events included a conversation about Latinidad, film showings, club spotlights, student performances, a formal, and a celebration of Día de los Muertos.

“One of the priorities for the month was to think about the larger conversation about Latinidad [and] its implications,” 2023 LAM coordinator Yohely Comprés ’24 said. “[Latine identity] in the United States has become kind of like a monolith of what Latin American culture is…which may not be an accurate depiction. A lot of Hispanophone Caribbean countries have been forgotten when thinking about Latinidad.”

Planning for the month began over the summer when Comprés began coordinating with the Resource Center (RC) to brainstorm community-building activities that could blend more serious conversations about Latine identity with more festive events like the Latine Formal. Members of the planning committee for LAM included students, staff, and faculty members, along with the Office of Student Involvement and organizations like Wesleyan’s Latin and Ballroom Dance Club, the Caribbean Student Association, and WesQuisqueya.

“We had about four to five meetings during the summer really thinking through and brainstorming what were the events that we were going to bring back,” Assistant Director of the Resource Center Kiara Ruesta-Cayetano said.

c/o Kimberly Sanchez

c/o Kimberly Sanchez

Members of the LAM Committee also included Daëlle Coriolan ’24, Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement Cecilia McCall ’91 P ’24, Social Media Specialist Anastasia Daniels, Assistant Director of Annual Giving for the Class of 2007 Destiny Lopez, and Coordinator of Community for the Jewett Center for Community Partnership (JCCP) Briana Bellinger-Dawson. For many of these collaborators, planning for the month represented a chance to compensate for previous years that were impacted by the pandemic. 

“I want to start these things back up again and create [a] community to do that,” Comprés said. “I know people, [especially] underclassmen, are always like, where’s the Latina community? And I’m like, we’re here, we just haven’t been able to do a lot of these things because of COVID[-19].”

LAM organizers were encouraged to revitalize the energy of the month to its fullest potential.

“This year was the first year that we really brought [back] LAM in a more intentional way,” Ruesta-Cayetano said. “The pandemic really [took] a hit on all the programming around [LAM], so this was the first semester that we really put a lot of energy and intentionality to make sure that we are representing students and what [they] wanted to see on campus.”

The RC and the planning committee collaborated to organize events that would emphasize the diversity of Latine identity on campus. The month began with a conversation on Latinidad that took place in the Daniel Family Commons on Friday, Sept. 29, featuring Charlotte Castillo ’94.

“Towards the beginning of [any heritage or awareness month we host] some type of convocation or kickoff,” Director of the RC Demetrius Colvin said. “It’s meant to just be a moment for the community to come together, eat some good food, [and] get excited for the month of events.”

The RC also worked with the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) to host the Latine Formal, which took place on Saturday, Oct. 14, in Russell House, and brought back old traditions such as the Latin performance showcase Expresiones, which took place in the Ring Family Performing Arts Hall Theater on Friday, Oct. 27, and featured students from the Wes Latin & Ballroom club.

“[In previous years] Latin students didn’t really know what community there was for us,” said LASO Co-President Keely Grande Torres ’25. “We [are excited] to motivate that student involvement that we [haven’t] seen in previous years and that obviously campus was missing for Latin students.”

The celebrations concluded with Día de los Muertos on Thursday, Nov. 2 at La Casa. The event was a remembrance of loved ones who have passed.

c/o Kimberly Sanchez

c/o Kimberly Sanchez

“[Dia de los Muertos] is really something important for my culture,” said Torres. “It’s something that I have been doing since I was younger. So being able to have a space to replicate what I do at home [and] what’s meaningful to me [and] my identity. Being able to display that on campus is something that I’m excited about.”

Beyond LAM, student organizations like LASO are excited to continue to commemorate Latine identity and culture, revive pre-pandemic traditions, and recognize the vast experiences of Latine-identifying students on campus. 

“We [look forward to] giving the club a voice more prominently here on campus [so that] class years can come and don’t [wonder] where’s the community?” Co-President of LASO Kimberly Sanchez said. “[We want to] solidify these [spaces] and this community on campus to make sure that it doesn’t die off.”

Overall, the LAM events provided an opportunity to increase the visibility of Latine students, faculty, and staff on campus.

“I think we really are working to create more awareness and create opportunities for students from specific affinity groups to really see themselves represented in the community,” Ruesta-Cayetano said. “Being in a predominantly white institution, it is often hard for students to create community, and so creating that visibility and creating opportunities where students can really get together and talk about their identities or just hang out with each other is important for us.”


Jo Harkless can be reached at jharkless@wesleyan.edu