Among the many events that Wellesley student organizations host during April for Latin@ month is the Latin@ Poster Campaign. This year, Latin@ Wellesley students submitted anonymous quotations via email and Mezcla created posters with those quotations to spread around campus and on Facebook. They express gratitude, fear of losing their culture, and promises to change the world around them.
Every year, the chair of Mezcla’s political action committee organizes and oversees the campaign. This year Nathalie Cortes ’17 organized the campaign and Elizabeth Cho ’16 completed the digital poster making. The posters were made by hand-writing the quotations and scanning them onto the background pictures.
Mezcla runs this campaign annually to increase the visibility of Latin@ students as individuals and to showcase the diversity of the Latin@ community at Wellesley. The statements are not meant to apply to the community as a whole. They accurately and powerfully depict the experiences of individual Latin@ students on campus and often show the relationship between culture and other aspects of their identity.
“It really validates our presence here. We’re not just a number, we’re actually individuals. We’re here to strive. It’s tough being a minority. It’s tough coming from a community where most of us don’t really get the proper education to come to a school like Wellesley,” Cortes said. “It’s always important to make campaigns that speak to each individual’s experience no matter your nationality, your gender, your sexual orientation.”
Mared Alicea-Westort, the Assistant Dean of Intercultural Education and advisor to Latin@ students, works to help build a more welcoming and supportive community for Latin@ students on campus and strongly supports the message that the students of Mezcla present during the postering campaign.
“I do believe the Poster Campaign is an exciting and powerful way of showing stereotypes made to Latin@ students and it’s an effective tool to use to dispel stereotypes,” Alicea-Westort said. “Students have really tried to be candid and have put their personal day to day struggles on display for the greater good of raising awareness of some of these issues here on campus.”
Maria Oceja ’15, a co-president of Mezcla, agreed that the poster campaign was necessary for Latin@ students to express their individual experiences and backgrounds because it has an effect on their experiences and identity at Wellesley.
“I feel that often our voices on campus are not heard. I feel that often we have this perspective of Wellesley being this perfect bubble where everyone just fits in and that’s not necessarily true for all Latin@ students. And I think that often our voices are silenced in the classroom in the sense that people don’t necessarily understand our experiences. So it’s necessary for us to make a political statement about our experiences at Wellesley because everyone assumes that everyone has the same experiences but that’s just not true,” Oceja said.
Oceja expressed a great appreciation for the powerful quotations in this year’s submissions. Her favorites include “I broke the glass ceiling but my hands won’t stop bleeding” and “This place me está cambiando,” which means “this place is changing me.”
“The Wellesley environment for Latin@s is harsh. This place really changes you in a way that you don’t realize it’s changing you until you stop and sit down to think about it and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, this place me está cambiando,’” Oceja explained.
The quotations on the posters represent all of the parts that make up the identities, even though Mezcla could not use all of the submissions for posters because there were too many this year.
Among the quotations that the political action committee chose, one poster that sparked discussion and feedback was the poster asking, “What would Hilary do about immigration?” The Mezcla executive board received feedback from people on campus pointing out the spelling “error,” which says “Hilary” instead of “Hillary.” This is an intentional choice because the double “l” is pronounced as a “y” in Spanish, making the poster relatable to Spanish-speaking students.
“I feel like anybody looking at that poster who understood that experience of immigration would immediately look at it and say ‘Oh, Hilary, they’re talking about Clinton,’said Oceja. “I just think it’s necessary to bring attention to the fact that I’m going to be a Wellesley alumna. She’s a Wellesley alumna. That doesn’t mean you understand my Wellesley experience. It’s important to make that distinction.”
Mezcla has received a large amount of feedback, especially after posting all of the posters on Facebook. For the most part, the responses to the poster campaign have been supportive and positive.
“This year has been special for me in the way that we’ve had a lot of support from a lot of different people who’ve given compliments about the poster campaign and not only that but a lot of people are just stricken with awe immediately. That’s really powerful,” Co-president of Mezcla Yesenia Ramirez ’15 said.
Ramirez also commented on the diverse experiences of Latin@ students on campus and how it has proven relatable to other minority students on campus.
“A lot of the feedback that we’ve gotten from friends who might not identify as Latin@ but maybe as another minority is that we see similar experiences,” Ramirez said. “I think that’s what we really wanted it to do; we wanted people to connect with it.”
Mezcla will be hosting a talk-back for the poster campaign on Thursday in order to talk more in depth about the posters and the thoughts and experiences behind the quotations.
Photo by Bianca Pichamuthu ’16, Photography Editor