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Students hugging at CLC Open House
Photo credit: Gabriella Quinones-Cordova

The upbeat Spanish pop music pumping out of speakers at 426 Manning Drive set the mood for the attendees gathering for this year’s Carolina Latinx Collaborative (CLC) Open House. As nearly 200 folks grooved to the music, shouts of joy emanated from students reuniting after summer break, and new students were warmly welcomed to the fold. The celebratory event was typical for the annual CLC event, with faculty, staff, and students joining together to provide a sense of community and act as resources.

Freshly prepared cheese, bean, and chorizo pupusas were served (courtesy of CLC alumna Cecilia Polacco’s famed food truck, So Good Pupusas) as people mingled, networked and met with a few of the Latinx-oriented fraternities and sororities, and organizations listed in the Latinx Resource Guide, as well as Mi Pueblo.

CLC Director Josmell Perez looked proudly on as students added their painted hands to a mural. “In this time of uncertainty,” he said, “the sense of community that is felt here – whether it is by a simple conversation amongst students or seeing the presence of faculty and staff – makes it eminently clear how welcoming Carolina is to these incoming students.”

Students and faculty network at CLC Open House
Photo credit: Gabriella Quinones-Cordova

Indeed, one student from the Dominican Republic was excited to meet someone else from the same country…who then presented her with a friendship bracelet to truly make her feel part of the Carolina Latinx community. It’s this sort of experience that makes faculty and staff applaud such an event. “Every year, there are more and more students eager to become involved with the Carolina Latinx Collaborative, the Latina/o Studies Program, and other related programs,” said Dr. Maria DeGuzmán, professor of English & Comparative Literature and director of Latina/o Studies. “Evident [at this open house] are a palpable awareness of and excitement about being part of a larger Latinx community of student leaders.”

Carla Rodriguez, coordinator for New Student Carolina Parent Programs, was also delighted to see the interaction between students. “Seeing students helping students and encouraging each other to speak to new people, whether at a table or just mingling around the room really impressed me,” she said. “You could actively see people stepping out of their comfort zones and asking questions to start building connections and explore new opportunities.”

With numerous programs and initiatives on the CLC agenda for 2018-2019 (kicking off with Latinx Heritage Month events from September 15 through October 15), this sense of unity will likely garner increased involvement in Latinx-related issues, events, and discussions.

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