by Liz Guadiana

The Peace Learning Center was so excited to host its very first Latinx Circle: Community Conversations session on September 15th to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month (presented by Liz Guadiana and Iliana Enriquez).

We wanted to engage the Latinx community in a dialogue around what was most important to them. Often, we have seen many parallels between American and Latinx counterparts regarding cultural, societal, and familial issues. With that in mind, we created a space for Latinx individuals to voice their concerns or stories pertaining to these very issues. Our opening circle brings us all in by introducing ourselves to each other by name along with any roles or affiliations to an organization. In recognition of the many Latinx cultures that encompass the identity, we showed a short video of Latinx people around the country. It gave us insight into an all-women Mexican mariachi band, the story of how traditional tamales made their way to Mississippi through a family-owned business, and the day-in-a-life of a grocery store owner/radio DJ in the heart of New York. This incited great discussion around what makes us, us.

As soon as we started sharing our experiences, we could feel the ‘room’ soften because of how relatable they were to us. Affirming head nods, speaking from the heart, mixed in with some levity helped us all unburden ourselves in a way. Towards the end, we all felt like we had just attended a family reunion where we broke bolillo (bread) while lending our ears and hearts to one another. That’s what this is about—coming together to talk about what is most important to us and what we need from each other to tackle those issues that can hinder the community’s progress. As we closed the circle, we shared our gratitude for the space we had that allowed us to look forward to future conversations around the needs of our Latinx community. Thank you to all of those who attended. Iliana and I are now working on creating more circles regarding some of the major concerns we heard from our first community conversation. Stay tuned!