Latinx students share their stories at open mic night


C.A.F.E. members, David Cruz and Rose Merry Blanco, stand next to the welcome sign as students enter the event. C.A.F.E. put together their first event of the semester, Friday, Mar. 8, 2019, in Chico, CA. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Chico State’s chapter of Central Americans for Empowerment (C.A.F.E.) hosted their first event on Friday in Sylvester’s Cafe.

Colorful picado banners hung from the ceiling and the smell of freshly cooked food filled the air as students milled about. “Cruzando Fronteras” or “Crossing Borders” was an open mic event, which allowed a safe space for students and faculty to discuss the seeking of refuge and the harsh experiences that their families have gone through.

Several of C.A.F.E. members were present, sharing both their poetry and stories onstage while also running a tabling fair and home-cooked pupusas stations. Students, faculty and representatives from other multicultural groups joined in as well.

“This event is very personal for me because both of my parents had to cross multiple borders to get here,” C.A.F.E. member Stephanie Cruz said. “My dad had to cross all through Mexico to go into the United States. Him being here was a new opportunity for him to start over and give me and my siblings the opportunity to do better and make a change.”

C.A.F.E. was created as a space for Central Americans and allies at Chico State, but also to bring awareness to the diversity and different experiences present on campus.

Packed House in Sylvester's Cafe
Many students huddled inside Sylvester’s Cafe for the event. They witnessed storytelling, poetry, and facts about the issues erupting for Central Americans, Friday, Mar. 9, 2019, in Chico, CA. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera
Belize Flag Hangs in Sylvester's Cafe
C.A.F.E. put up a Central American country, Belize, up on one of the walls in Sylvester’s Cafe. The whole event itself was to emphasize the struggles and hear students speak up about their pain through poetry, storytelling, etc., Friday, Mar. 9, 2019, in Chico, CA. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera
C.A.F.E. T-shirt Logo
Members of the club are showing off the logos on the back of their shirts at their first event. There were many students who got to witness this successful event, Friday, Mar. 8, 2019, in Chico, CA. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera
C.A.F.E. Sign at the Event
C.A.F.E. had their club name on a display table by the entrance. This table had information about the club and the culture of Central Americans, Friday, Mar. 9, 2019, in Chico, CA. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

“This is a time for us to learn from other people and see what others have gone through,”Cruz said. “Just so we can reflect and be thankful for what we have, many people had to go through a lot just to be here.”

Fifth-year Joselin Medina founded the Chico State chapter of the organization and is currently the president during her last semester of school. As her time as a college student was coming to an end, she realized that some parts of diversity were missing from this campus.

Medina was introduced to C.A.F.E. by her mentor, which was originally founded at UC Berkeley. Chico State now hosts the fourth chapter of this organization in existence.

“We want there to be a space for students to share their stories openly,” Medina said. “We want to let them know that there’s a wide range of Latinx-American students on campus and that we see them.”

Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.