Updated: Aug 5, 2020
La Casa Cultural Latina holds a Latino Family Visit Day every year for the parents of first-generation Latinx students. The event is made up of many activities that are meant to incite discussion and exploration of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Additionally, La Casa provides transportation to and from Chicago, along with different activities for younger siblings. For me, the event seemed like a great opportunity to show my parents what college life is like, so I decided to sign up.
I thought that the Latino Family Visit Day was very helpful and enlightening. The first section was composed of informative sessions. Families learned more about the financial aid process and scholarship opportunities. Addressing this information helped clarify the importance of providing accurate information and assisting a student, along with guidance to help navigate through different situations. I believe that my family was able to understand how difficult and complicated it can be to complete the process. At the same time, this information could be useful since all students have to complete the FAFSA for the upcoming school year. Overall, giving insight into the process of applying for financial aid helped parents become aware of how stressful it is, especially in the Latinx community.
On top of an information session, parents were able to ask questions about student life at the University of Illinois. I thought that some of the addressed topics were very personal and thought-provoking. It felt odd to listen to parents speak about such issues, but at the same time, it was necessary and realistic. This session both helped and scared me. I felt as if it helped reassure my goals, but some aspects made me nervous about what I could encounter in the future. However, I realized that hardship is inevitable. Parents and faculty promoted the idea of encountering a new atmosphere and challenging oneself.
Summarizing my experience of Latino Family Visit Day may seem as if I am "giving away" the main takeaways from the event, which would make attendance seem unnecessary in the future. However, I encourage all first-generation Latinx students to sign up for the event in the future. I am unable to describe how I felt throughout the day because I experienced a broad array of emotions. I would also like to emphasize that there were positive experiences as well. I was able to bond with my family and show them various activities around campus. Helping to ease their concerns about my new environment was a relief to me. Furthermore, I believe that it is helpful to introduce Latinx parents to university life in general.
I thank everyone who was involved in Latino Family Visit Day. The experience was amazing and helpful in so many ways. I would like to include that this program could end up opening to all Latinx students on campus in the future since the organizers have seen tremendous success throughout these past few years. If you are interested in participating next year, keep an eye out for any information provided by La Casa Cultural Latina.