DePaul University’s (IL) Latinx Book Club aims to create a safe space for members of the Latino/a community to come together as they discuss a story and how it helps them think about their own experiences. 

The club started with Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice by Cristina Rivera Garza. The book is a 2023 National Book Award-nominated offering based on the author’s story about how her younger sister was killed by her ex-boyfriend, reported DePaul University Newsline. It explores her sister’s life through letters she wrote as well as interviews with family and friends.

The book takes on the topic of femicide – the killing of women and girls based on their sex – plus it explores intimate partner violence and feminism in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

The book’s serious subject matter caused book club organizers to make the creation of a safe, supportive environment for discussions a priority. So, they began each meeting with a discussion of ground rules, Newsline said, and ended with a mental health clinician from University Counseling and Psychological Services (UCAPS) leading participants in a mindfulness exercise. UCAPS staffers were available to help participating students navigate emotions that came up in discussion.

“It’s always been the priority to ensure that the space feels good and safe for students. So far, I think it has worked beautifully. Progressively, we have all become very comfortable and there’s so much mutual respect,” said Flor Reza, program manager of the Latinx Cultural Center.

Other Notes
The author visited DePaul for a hybrid event open to the public. It was held in the campus Art Museum where an exhibition entitled “Selva Aparicio: In Memory Of” explored themes of domestic violence.

The Center for Latino Research, the Latinx Cultural Center, the DePaul Art Museum and University Counseling and Psychological Services collaborated to create the book club. “We started the book club to get students involved and introduce them to community spaces where they can spend time and meet people,” Marcela Reales Visbal, assistant director of the Center for Latino Research who spearheaded the project said. The club met in multiple spaces throughout their time together.

Source: DePaul University Newsline, 4/8/24

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