Chavez Center hosts Hispanic mixer - The Lookout - LCC's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1959
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Chavez Center hosts Hispanic mixer


Dr. Olga Correa, director of the Cesar Chavez Center, addresses attendees at the celebratory Mexican-American mixer on April 24.  Photo by Mallory Stiles

Mallory Stiles

By Mallory Stiles             
Editor in Chief

There was a celebratory mixer held on Wednesday, April 24 in the Cesar Chavez Learning Center, located in the LCC Arts and Sciences Building. The center was instantly filled with an aura of pride and acceptance.

Firstly, there was mingling and chatting to be done. Associate Dean of the Center for Student Support Felipe Lopez Sustaita attended the event and said he is proud of LCC for hosting events like these.

“It’s always important to acknowledge and celebrate our differences and similarities, especially in an institution like this,” he said.

Lopez Sustaita added he is aware that Cinco de Mayo is much bigger in the U.S. than it is in Mexico. He said, in Mexico, the fifth of May is regarded as a significant day, but for a very historical purpose. 

“For Mexicans, the French were invading and that could have changed the trajectory of the entire country,” Lopez Sustaita said. “It would have changed everything; we probably would have been colonized by the French.”

Sept. 16 is actually considered Mexico’s Independence Day, but hardly anyone in the U.S. knows that.

“You never hear about Sept. 16, but it is a big day for us,” Lopez Sustaita said.

Another friendly face to be found at the event was Dean of Community Workforce Development Bo Garcia. Garcia has worked for LCC for going on 30 years, primarily at west campus. He is a very involved staff member, but admitted he made the trip for a reason a bit closer to home.

“My parents are from Mexico,” Garcia said. “I am first generation and I went to a community college in Jackson. So here at LCC, I think it’s super important to be engaged with students, their interests and their heritage because it creates a sense of belonging and inclusion for them.”

He said the need for providing such an atmosphere cannot be understated.

“I know that because it was important to me,” he said. “I started my career, back in the day, as an adviser of the Black Student Association and, then, I created a club. It was called the ‘Multicultural Student Association,’ so, this kind of thing has been near and dear to my heart for a LONG time.”

After all faculty and staff had greeted each other and got their plates, keynote speaker Theresa Rosado took the stage. Rosado is a graphic designer, an artist, an activist, a teacher and a nonprofit director.

The nonprofit is called the Casa de Rosado Galeria & Cultural Center. She said it is currently the only Latinx cultural center in mid-Michigan.

“We focus specifically on the visual arts and also we host a lot folkloric dancers and sponsor them throughout the year,” Rosado said. “We also host one of the largest Day of the Dead, ‘Dia de Muertos,’ celebrations in central Michigan.”

While she was speaking, she said her work is important to her because she remembers being a young member of the Latinx community in the ‘80s and ‘90s with no place to share her work.

“Colonization destroyed culture,” she said.

After her presentation, Dr. Olga Correa, director of the Cesar Chavez Center, addressed the crowd in both Spanish and English. Correa had an assignment and informed everyone participation wasn’t optional.

Everyone was given three index cards and told to write representative words that, to them, describe their identity. After everyone had written something and pens were down, some were called on to read theirs aloud.

“Mother!” someone said.

“Foodie,” said another.

“Now tear one up,” Correa instructed.

The whole room became confused and looked down at their cards with reluctance. The point became brutally clear.

Correa spent her remaining minutes educating the room on the difference between cultural terms like Hispanic versus Latino/a or Latino/a versus Latinx. It was all very informative and something everyone needs to hear.

Events like these are meant to educate and inspire, but Correa wrapped things up by reminding people that perfect participation wasn’t required. She recommended a few books and just asked people to start somewhere.

“Don’t feel like you need to know everything,” she said. “Just do some reading and have a few conversations.”



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