When first-year student Gabriela Silva came to Carolina, she knew she wanted to get involved with many campus communities. In particular, she wanted to build relationships with people who spoke her native language and shared similar experiences.
“I didn’t know if I would be able to find it in a club, a sport or something else,” said Silva, who moved from Rio de Janeiro to Charlotte, North Carolina, when she was 7 years old.
She found the new Carolina Latinx Center, and it was just what she was looking for.
“Building and maintaining a community is very important to the center, and it’s encouraging and affirming to be a part of that,” said Silva.
A beautiful combination
The center provides students, faculty and staff the chance to explore Latinx cultures, histories and traditions and to use that understanding to work across racial and ethnic communities in North Carolina and across the world. The new center’s grand opening in Abernathy Hall will be held on Oct. 4.
“A physical space like this validates the community that already exists,” Silva said. “It brings a sense of belonging to the community. … I hope that future students will see themselves reflected on campus.”
Silva obtained a work-study position at the Carolina Latinx Center and now serves as one of the center’s student ambassadors. She helps with the center’s graphic design needs and works with other students to promote the center’s activities and events.
She’s especially excited for the Latinx Heritage Month keynote event Oct. 2, which will feature a spoken-word poet. Silva performed spoken-word poetry at her high school’s TEDx event.
“Getting to see the art that I love in combination with the Latinx community that we’re building, it’s beautiful,” she said.
In addition to the events hosted by the center, the informal opportunities to speak Portuguese or practice Spanish help Carolina feel even more like home for Silva.
“Even that small thing helps to remind you of home, and it helps Carolina feel smaller because I’ll recognize people from the center out on campus,” she said.