Where is the LatinX presence in Brookline?



The LatinX club serves as a safe space space where Hispanic and Latinx students can find their voices.

In a town where the Latinx population is only a fraction of the town’s population, where can Hispanic youth in the community find a welcoming space where they can see their identity reflected in their surroundings?

Spanish teacher Marta Fuertes-Rodriguez has been the adviser of the Latinx Club for eight years and advocates for the growing population of Latinx students. Fuertes-Rodriguez hosts the club every X-block to create a safe space where Hispanic and Latinx students can find their voices.

The casual manner of the meetings encourages students to feel comfortable switching languages if they want and exploring multiple sides of their identity. Members also refer to advisers by their first names to create a sense of community free of the intimidation of titles.

Club president and junior Alex Levy said the laid-back and connected atmosphere of club meetings allows students and staff alike to connect on a deeper level.

“I realized that the way that people talk to each other didn’t feel like a teacher-to-student relationship, or a senior-to-freshman relationship, rather a friend-to-friend relationship,”Levy said. “I’ve never felt such a strong connection with teachers. Marta and Pedro are truly my best friends at the school right now. They went to my sister’s graduation and everything.”

This close-knit familial bond is crucial for students who may have uncertain immigration status or uncertain home lives to make connections in the community. Fuertes-Rodriguez’s goal is to create a ready and waiting environment for students who may not have anywhere else to go.

“I’ve seen other students be very intimidated by the community because they were probably first-generation immigrants or they didn’t know that there were other people in their situation or who spoke their language,” Fuertes-Rodriguez said.

Fuertes-Rodriguez has her own experiences with these insecurities, and she wants her fellow club members and their families to live without them. Belonging to a different nationality or speaking a language other than your native tongue has the potential to be unsettling for both students and teachers.

“I feel uncomfortable speaking in public in English because it is not my native tongue and I am too aware that I will make some sort of mistake,” Fuertes-Rodriguez said. “So I kind of need to practice what I preach because things like that still make me really nervous when I’m on the spot.”

Connections between students go deeper than just ice breakers, as members share concerns about their native countries and issues in their personal lives. They channel these concerns into advocacy to help people with their shared heritage internationally.

“Last year, we were trying to raise money and efforts towards supporting communities in their countries. We supported the population affected by the crisis in Venezuela by sending money over, and last year during the storms in Honduras students wanted to send clothing,” said Fuertes-Rodriguez.

Hispanic people at the administrative level are also advocating for their community.

Newly appointed associate dean Astrid Allen, former adviser of the Latinx club and current advisor of the Multicultural Affinity Community (MAC), said she hopes to see the school honor Hispanic heritage.

“I am sort of conflicted about the idea of a heritage month. On one hand, I’m like, ‘Yes! Everyone gets a month to feel appreciated and acknowledged,’ and on the other hand I kind of hate the idea because every day we are supposed to be appreciated,” Allen said.

Allen wants to see other demonstrations of Latinx excellence outside of just food and music. She wants to showcase that there is a staff population who all have things to share, to further welcome students into the community and find mirrors in their surroundings.

“I’d love to see a speaker series highlighting teachers. Similar to how we do with Asking for Courage Day and Day of Dialogue, a space where we can highlight teachers’ experiences,” Allen said. “I don’t know how much kids know about the work that the school has done to welcome diverse teachers of different backgrounds, and how much they’re out there, being celebrated.”