Harvard welcomes students from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and heritages, creating a vibrant learning environment both inside and outside the classroom. Being here has provided me with countless opportunities to learn about different cultures and walks of life.
For instance, I've had the privilege of listening to my roommate share with me how her family celebrated the Lunar New Year, and through another friend, I discovered that, in Japan, it's customary to give men boxes of chocolates rather than women on Valentine's Day. These brief examples serve as a testament to the wealth of knowledge one can gain by simply listening to friends from various backgrounds. Attending college seems to amplify this opportunity to learn from one's peers.
While I've thoroughly enjoyed this journey of personal growth and learning, I must confess that when I first moved to Cambridge for college I experienced a bit of culture shock. Having lived in Mexico for a considerable period of my life, and then moving to a border city in Texas, I had grown accustomed to predominantly interacting with individuals of Mexican heritage. Consequently, entering college also sparked a desire in me to seek out a community where I could celebrate my own cultural heritage.
So, I explored and found RAZA.
Some of RAZA's History:
I learned, through RAZA’s 2022 president’s letter, that,
“The Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA was funded in 1972 by a group of Mexican/Mexican-Americans students and 1 Puerto Rican student to serve as a social support group at a time when no Latine organizations existed at Harvard. For years, RAZA served as the home to all Latine students, further developing into a group for Mexican/Mexican-American students.”
Since its creation, RAZA has given space to an immeasurable number of students and has carried the mission of “creating space, visibility, and community for Mexican students at Harvard University since 1972”.
What RAZA Does:
To live up to its mission, RAZA takes on many initiatives. One of my favorites is its constant organizing of events for the current members of the RAZA community. These social events serve a range of purposes. Sometimes they involve celebrating Mexican traditions, like El Dia de los Muertos or Mexican Independence Day. Other times it involves mixers with Latine organizations from nearby schools, outings to East Boston for Mexican food, movie screening events, themed parties (like Quinceanera or Jaripeo themed), and sometimes they simply organize events that have some traditional food, games, and music.
During my time at Harvard, some of the biggest events that it has put on have included the celebration of RAZA’s 50th year anniversary Gala, and inviting the Mexican Band of Los Tigres del Norte to visit Harvard and speak to the RAZA community.
Being on RAZA Board
I joined the RAZA board as co-social chair at the start of 2023 because I loved the community and relationships I gained through RAZA, and I wanted to contribute to developing that for others.
One of my most cherished moments since I joined RAZA's board occurred as we were preparing for a brunch event we had planned. A group of us gathered in the kitchen of one of our board members' dorms. We were preparing chilaquiles and eggs with sausage, traditional Mexican breakfast dishes. As I cracked over two dozen eggs for our event, my board member friends were busy making the chips for the chilaquiles, all while we sang along to bits of the songs that were playing. I then realized that we were cooking food and listening to music that I had always associated just with home. Surrounded by wonderful people, I felt so grateful to have such a nice way of feeling at home while being thousands of miles from where I’d grown up. It was fun and lighthearted, and it meant the world to me. Looking at people who have become my friends, I couldn't help but appreciate the profound impact they have on our community, and how glad I was they ended up here.
By the way, here's a cute TikTok video capturing a bit of that morning.
I am so happy I found a community and space that makes me feel such strong feelings of belonging and joy on campus.