A Recap on “Navigating a PWI As An Afro-Latinx”

Diana Pineda Vélez, members of the Gamma Gamma chapter of Phi Sigma Pi and other students of Georgia Southern sat down together to discuss, listen, relate and learn more on the topic of navigating a PWI as an Afro-Latinx on October 7. Vélez, a nontraditional senior at Georgia Southern University (Armstrong campus), and students discussed topics such a culture, heritage, microaggressions and code-switching. 

Before the conversation started, Vélez asked the students to form a circle of chairs, to make for a more intimate and personal conversation. She started the conversation by opening up about her childhood and how her grandparents always showed her the best aspects of her respective cultures. 

Photo from GS_HOLA

Culture is an integral part of every student’s upbringing. However, it was discussed that it is felt by some students that a lot of heritages and cultures can sometimes go unnoticed in university. 

Vélez was asked if she had experienced any microaggressions here at Georgia Southern. A microaggression is a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority. While she said she hasn’t experienced it here, she is no stranger to experiencing them elsewhere. 

Students at the seminar asked questions and shared their own experiences at college. The two sides of Georgia Southern University, “white GSU” and “black GSU” were discussed. While the campus is in no way officially segregated, many feel there is a cultural divide among students. These two “sides” of GSU appear in the form of predominantly white or black events, clubs and gatherings. Students explained that there are completely different college experiences to be had depending on these two sides. 

Vélez and students also agreed on having to code-switch. Code-switching is the practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in conversation. It is customizing the style of speech to the audience or group being addressed. When asked how white people can help to minimize the use of code-switching, Vélez said that white people being present at seminars, like this one, and asking questions is the key to having a more inclusive environment. 

If you’re interested to learn more about the many different cultures on campus, keep an eye out for multicultural events. More events hosted by Phi Gamma Pi can be found on their instagram, @gammagammapsp.