Being a child of immigrants or being a part of a diaspora often comes with its own challenges and complexities. Our differences tend to be highlighted when entering spaces that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable, which can make flourishing in said spaces difficult. To combat this, many people utilize familiar scents, sounds, and traditions to make the unsettling feel more comfortable. For my project, I explore the joys and the complications that many Latinx students experience growing up and how this shapes them when entering college/university. Utilizing the stories that my peers shared with me, I demonstrate how Latinx students navigate their experiences at Wesleyan University by place-making.

For many who are first-generation students, the drive to earn a college diploma comes from themselves and also from home. With the pressure of succeeding and also of making one’s family proud, entering an unfamiliar world comes with many struggles.

To explore how students navigate through these challenges, I invited some peers to come over and cook meals that remind them of home. Many mentioned how home is a force of strength for them and so replicating it empowers them to keep going. In the video attached above, we gather to cook, share, laugh, and dance to not only be reminded of comfort but also to find commonalities within each other. By sharing this meal and our stories, we ground ourselves at an institution that was originally was not made to hold space for us. Although college and university can be unnerving and uncomfortable, we find comfort and strength through familiar smells, sounds, and feelings. Thus, placemaking is imperative for many Latinx students to thrive in higher education institutions.