One of the hardest parts about going away for college is that you are so far from home. I knew that once I got to Swarthmore from NYC, I was going to have to make friends that I can rely on and be my support system while I am away. This is where the Latinx/Hispanic affinity group, ENLACE, comes in.
It was my first day here and, at dinner, the co-president at the time, Diana, stopped me out of nowhere to talk to me. She had recognized my face from the Latinx reception Swat had for the incoming Latinx/Hispanic family. We talked about how we were both from New York City and how excited we were for the year to start. During this conversation, we started to talk about being Mexican and she introduced me to ENLACE. She hadn’t seen my name on the mailing list, but she was more than happy to invite me to the first general meeting that the group was having in a couple of days. I knew for a fact that I needed to show up to this meeting so I could easily meet and find other Latinx/Hispanic-identifying students. I needed to find my community here at Swat.
From then on, my affiliation with ENLACE began. I was heavily involved with all the general meetings that they had and always tried my best to appear at any other events that they were having. I struggled a bit my freshman fall to find friends and just being social on this campus. ENLACE helped me and my friends expand our sense of community outside of the academics. The group’s meetings usually comprised of some kind of topic that we would all talk freely about as a community. Once in a while, it’d be a topic-less meeting where we just talked about our day and lives, to get to know one another. People were very open about talking to one another and sharing their experiences here on campus. ENLACE has even organized trips for the group. I got to go into Philly for free to explore and eat in South Philly, a community of predominantly Hispanic/Latinx people. The group even throws parties with mainly Latinx artists being brought to the forefront in the party playlist. The group does as much as it can to make a community and ensure that we are there to support one another.
My best friend, Miryam, and I cared enough about the group that we even decided to be a part of the executive board. She joined the board her freshman spring, while I followed suit sophomore fall. A good portion of my closest friends come from this organization. I found the support that I needed from a community that understood and shared some of the struggles that I was facing here at Swarthmore. Now, I am one of the Co-Presidents for ENLACE, along with my other Co-President, Angela. I now get to help and be in charge of ensuring Latinx students feel welcomed and feel like they have some kind of support from the Latinx community while they are here on campus.
The moral of the story here is that, in general, Swarthmore helps you find your community and helps connect you to a group of people who understand you, for the most part. Whether it be through an organization/affinity group, a club, a sport, etc., you find your community here. You may even go as far as making them an important part of your life.