Bloomington is home to a strong and diverse Latinx community. There are several resources available that are both specific to this community, and serve to connect it with allies. In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, here are some student-friendly opportunities to connect with members of the Latinx community:
Volunteer with community groups
There are volunteer opportunities through El Centro Comunal Latino, the Bloomington Volunteer Network and the Community and Family Resources Department Latino Outreach Program. El Centro offers resourcessuch as tutoring and translation services and organizes cultural events for the Latino community and its allies, according to Sandy Britton, member of the board of directors.
"It’s rewarding to help others and a great way for non-Latinos to connect with Latinos,” Britton said.
In collaboration with United Way, the program is recruiting volunteers to assist Spanish speaking community members in filing their tax returns for the 2021 tax season. Complimentary training will be provided in late October, according to Josefa Luce, coordinator of the outreach program.
The Bloomington Commission of Hispanic and Latino Affairs has open meetings on the last Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom to discuss relevant and local issues concerning the Latinx community, and aids in establishing programming in response to these issues.
Participate in events sponsored by La Casa for Latinx Heritage Month
There are a number of events occurring that are sponsored by La Casa culture center, IU academic departments and community groups from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. All events conducted this year will be hosted via Zoom. Interested participants can RSVP to La Casa via email.
Help with La Escuelita Para Todos (native or near-native fluency recommended)
La Escuelita Para Todos is a program that meets Saturdays at the Monroe County Public Library. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all meetings have been temporarily suspended. Volunteers can help children of Latinx heritage gain literacy in the Spanish language.
IU professor Raquel Anderson, who is active with the program, strongly recommends tutors possess a native or near-native Spanish fluency in order to fully aid students in their learning. Interested volunteers who are of intermediate or advanced proficiency can still help with administrative tasks, such as organizing materials and helping with large group activities.
“Volunteers in this program should have an idea of the experience of the community these kids and their families are coming from,” Anderson said. “But they should also be prepared to learn more.”
Those who are interested in joining in the spring can contact Anderson or program director Daniel Soto. Opportunities for participation are also available through a service learning course with the department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Attend a Spanish mass
People of Catholic faith can attend mass conducted in Spanish at the St. Paul Catholic Center. The service occurs at 12:30 p.m. Sundays. Interested attendees are asked to reserve a spot on the parish’s website, or watch live via Facebook.
¡Hola! Bloomington radio
¡Hola! Bloomington is a bilingual community-run radio program that airs Fridays from 6 to 7 p.m. on WFHB 98.1FM and 91.3FM. The show offers a wide range of spoken entertainment, news and public opinion. Volunteer hosts and guest speakers are welcome to contribute to airings. The show is followed by two hours of Spanish music.
Volunteers will receive training in the tasks required to run a radio show. While the majority of radio participants are fluent in Spanish, there is no specific language requirement to join, according to Latinx outreach coordinator Josefa Luce.
Take a class
IU offers numerous classes for people interested in learning more about Spanish language and culture. For undergraduate students, the department of Spanish and Portuguese offers classes at every level, a minor and a major degree program.
The Latino Studies and Latin American and Carribean Studies departments also offer courses related to Latin American history and culture. Topics that relate to this culture can also be found in courses of anthropology, history, international studies, political science, religious studies, business, music and public and environmental affairs.