Excerpts from Ethnography Project: La Casa Cultural Latina
by Francine Romero

    Besides being an institute for learning and research, the university is made up of different places that each serves their own purpose. The university offers many resources for individuals, be it students or professors. There is a particular aspect the university isn't always observed from. This aspect is the workplace. With projects such as Ethnography we are able to explore environments we never knew existed or always avoided due lo lack of knowledge about them. We allow ourselves lo open our minds to these field sites and come to respect and understand their purpose here at the University of Illinois. My particular field site is La Casa Cultural Latina located directly across the street from the Office of Minority Student Association (OMSA East) on Nevada St.. Both students and adult staff work at La Casa planning numerous events and programs in effort to unite and teach the Latinos and others on campus about different ethnic/race groups. In addition to La Casa's educational aspect, it also provides the campus with an opportunity to learn about and experience the Latino culture and the diversity at the University of Illinois and beyond.

     If you were to walk inside La Casa Cultural Latina or "La Casa" as all the students simply call it on campus, you will find it very quiet as you enter and somewhat intimidating. After entering through the first door one will see many flyers posted up and a paper rack filled with various pamphlets, brochures, newsletters, and etc. regarding anything from stress management, fundraising, volunteer work, to apartment searching and much more. The main room's walls are covered with huge vibrant colored murals that represent struggle, unity, and pride amongst other things. The shades of bright reds, yellows, oranges and browns shout for attention. Very spacious with couches outlining the room, the main room is normally occupied during the evening hours when it is reserved for meetings or any other business and social gatherings. During the day it remains open for students as mentioned before, for leisure, study, and/or relaxation. There are conference rooms along with a kitchen and a computer lab of about 50 or more computers accessible for use. Throughout La Casa are pictures either painted by former students or brought from numerous art museums from major cities in the U.S. Some contain pictures of celebration of particular holidays from Latin countries or significant individuals such as revolutionists and other leaders. Others send important messages in Spanish stating "Las Drogas Causan la Juventud Perdida" which in English is translated as " The Drugs cause the lost youth." There is also a small showcase with colorful masks that one might find a bit strange if they are not familiar with the mask's origin and purpose for celebration in specific Central American countries. This cultural house allows you to wander around and give yourself a tour that will spark some type of interest or curiosity about the Latino culture and its richness.

Click to see Francine's map.

Click here for Patty's experiences at La Casa.