Spartanburg, South Carolina (Noticias Nuestro Estado) – The University of South Carolina at Upstate (USC Upstate) announced that it will open the South Carolina Centro Latino. This project is the first center built specifically for the Latino community in South Carolina.
Dr. Araceli Hernandez-Laroche and Maria Francisco-Monteso are professors at USC Upstate and together they will be the Director and Assistant Director of ‘El Centro’. Dr. Araceli mentions that the center will open in August but she and Maria have been doing work supporting the Latinx community for several years now.
Three pillars will sustain the mission of El Centro. The first pillar is comprised of Latino Studies, the second of Public Humanities, and the last of Community Interpretation and Translation. You can hear more about the arrival of this center in this talk between Dr. Araceli, Maria, and Yajaira on ‘Viernes en Vivo’.
Dr. David Schecter, USC Upstate’s Provost, expresses that El Centro will play a role not only in the community but also within the University. “El Centro is about respect. Showing respect to our Latina/o faculty and staff. Respect to our students and to our community. We are about building bridges and improving lives throughout the Upstate. We are on a mission.”
The goal of El Centro is to help meet some of the needs of our community, especially language access. In the last 20 years, the Latinx population in South Carolina has grown rapidly, growing by 148%. In an interview, Araceli commented that less than one percent of teachers in South Carolina identify as Latino or Hispanic, which demonstrates a large representation gap. Part of the work that will be done is highlighting professions in which Latinx and Hispanic individuals can fill those gaps.
Dr. Araceli explains that the name is very intentional. “When we say ‘South Carolina Centro Latino’ we have to alternate between two languages (English and Spanish) and actually between several cultures. In English, we call this codeswitching. Through El Centro, we want to promote our mother tongues, including indigenous ones. We want to value the bilingualism and multilingualism that has always existed in this country.”
“We want to empower the bilingualism of our students and offer them the necessary resources to know how to incorporate it into their work lives. El Centro is for everyone, we want to welcome all those who want to learn about our cultures and languages, collaborate or participate, and for those who are looking for a place where they can feel identified. El Centro wants to promote a sense of belonging and connection with the academic world and with our community locally and globally.” -Maria Francisco Montesó, Deputy Director
One of Dr. Araceli and Mari’s goals is for El Centro to be a linguistic and cultural bridge between the university and the community. They want it to be a place where the Latinx community feels at home. They already have many events planned, for example, a summit for Hispanic college students, inviting experts on various topics from other states and countries, presentations on immigration, mental health, interpretation, translation, and other important topics. They add that one of the objectives is to collaborate with institutions throughout the state and they invite the community to be part of many of these events. We look forward to the arrival of El Centro!
El Centro’s website will be ready in August but the community can contact them in English or Spanish at 864-503-5221 or email@example.com.