The Center for Multicultural Affairs held a discussion on the cultural gap between Latino and Latin American students Monday.
With catering provided by the restaurant Moe's Southwest Grill, the lunch event touched on issues of race, cultural identity and ethnic stereotypes. Titled “Dynamics of the Latino vs. Latin American Experience,” the roundtable brought undergraduates, graduate students and administrators together to discuss identity issues on campus.
The event, which was co-sponsored by Mi Gente—the University’s Latino student association—was centered around unifying Latin American students and Latinos.
“Being a Latino in the U.S. is different from living in your own country,” junior Walter Solorzano said. “There is not much communication between the two groups.”
Daniel Camacho, a first-year Divinity School student, said he noticed a lack of unity among the Hispanic community as a whole.
“Often the biggest obstacles to Latinos is other Latinos," he said.
The divide between Latin Americans and Latinos can be damaging, said junior Mariel Charles, the discussion facilitator.
“It kind of creates an identity crisis. Do I fit in with these people or do I fit in with these people?” he said.
Those present at the discussion discussed divides within other cultures as well.
“Among the Asian-American community, there is a sort of invisible divide between East Asians and South Asians,” said Li-Chen Chin, director of intercultural programs at the Center for Multicultural Affairs.
Solorzano held a similar sentiment, adding that he found the divide in the Asian community to be larger than the one in the Hispanic community.
When the luncheon concluded, the participants expressed their optimism about the talk.
“This [discussion] helped me go forward and to try to find my identity," junior Leasly Salazar said. “It was really helpful.”
Chin noted that conversation between members of different cultures are often effective.
“[Discussions are] a platform for those who do not necessarily identify with those communities to learn more about their experiences and to get a better understanding of the student populations here at Duke,” she said.
Chin added that it is important that these types of discussion are student-driven.
“We try to support the students. We ask them what they would like to talk about and we provide the space," she said.
The Center for Multicultural Affairs' next function will be a discussion entitled En/Countering Racism. It will be hosted in the Bryan Center 6 p.m. Oct. 4.