The Latinx community at Ursinus College now has more activities and programs on campus, due in part to the efforts of Dr. Xochitl Shuru, Professor of Modern Languages, who has created a book club to unite members of the community.
Last year, Dr. Shuru led an Inclusive Community Grant project which enabled her to continue her work as the 2019-2020 Inclusive Community Fellow. She started collaborations with organizations on campus such as the Institute for Inclusion and Equity and the Latin American studies program to support the growth of the Latinx community. In addition, the fellowship allowed her to serve as a mentor to students, and create activities and events to raise awareness of the issues the community faces. Lastly, she worked to create a space where members of the affected community could confide in and express themselves to one another.
One of Shuru’s first initiatives is the Latino/a/x Book Club, named “Conexiones,” which translates to “connections.” She explained that it’s a part of a community-building, mentorship and conversation circle for members of the Latino/a/x community at Ursinus.
“The name represents the bonds that unite the many Latino/a/x communities present at Ursinus and beyond our campus,” she said.
The main impetus behind the book club came from Hispanic and Latino student leaders who noted the lack of opportunities and spaces to learn about, discuss, and express themselves about the experiences and the issues that affect them.
“It is a safe space for students to share their own Latinidad and build a stronger sense of identity and community,” Shuru said.
Conexiones has started off the book club with the memoir “The Distance Between Us” by Reyna Grande. The memoir focuses on Grande’s life as an undocumented nine-year- old girl who finds refuge from a violent home in reading and writing.
“Grande’s personal story allows us to discuss topics of immigration and resiliency,” she said. “She emerges as an accomplished Creative Writer with an MFA in Creative Writing and one of the strongest Latina voices in the United States.”
The “Conexiones” book club meets every other week.
In addition to the book club, other activities have been developed to provide a more safe space for conversation, such as “Si Se Puede Speaker Series,” which brings different speakers from different fields to share their personal stories of success to serve as examples for the community, and “Hora de Cafe” an hour of social networking taking place the first Friday of every month.
“My hope is that via these programs we will bring members of the community together to strengthen their presence on campus and create safe spaces to discuss their unique experiences,” said Dr. Shuru.
For more information regarding the events and activities check for emails.