Why Would You Choose To Take Latino Studies

There are over 50 million Latino’s living in the United States today and by 2050 the population could rise to 76 million. That’s around 1 in 4.  As the USA populous continues to change there is an ever-growing need to be able to understand the significant social change factors that immigrants and their children bring to the nation. This need for change is evident as colleges and schools have begun to, and continue to, adapt in order to accommodate this shift in dynamics. Having an understanding of Latino people, their culture their ancestry, and their experiences are paramount and this is why the academic discipline of Latino studies has come about.

In essence Latino studies tries to look at the experiences of Latino people and their Hispanic ancestry as it relates to the USA. It is similar to studies in other fields such as Native American Studies, African American Studies and Asian American Studies as it critically examines the experiences, politics, history and culture of the Hispanic people. It does this by drawing on numerous academic disciplines such as literature, history, religious studies, political science and sociology.

Hispanic heritage in the US goes way back. For instance when the pilgrim fathers discovered Plymouth in 1620, settlements such as St Augustine in Florida were already celebrating their 55th year, and Santa Fe was ten years old at this point also. These were both founded by Spanish explorers. As small pockets of Spanish settlements continued to spread across the southwest some Latino’s can trace their forebears back to this point in history.

In the modern age, courses in Latino studies can be related to everyday professions such as business, law, medicine, science and engineering and is crucial in understanding how Latino’s live and work. There are a myriad of courses a student can take and here is an overview of just a few.

Introduction to Latino’s in America

This course examines the sociology behind the Latino existence in America and examines the historical and political foundations

The Spirituality of Latino’s

The course explores the origins of the US Latino Spirituality by looking at the devotions, rituals of the people and feasts.

The Ancient To Modern History Of Latino Print making

Latino print making can be traced back to the 14th century, and this course will provide an in depth look at its roots, right up to the present day.

Latino’s in education

This course examines the struggles that Latino’s have had to face within US private and public education. Students will study events by looking at legal, social, and historical perspectives.

International Migration studies

This course takes an in depth look at various immigration patterns to the US by Latino’s and why they occurred. It also looks at the flood of immigration that is happening presently from Mexico and Central America and the social and economic implications that precede it.

On the whole the Hispanic population is set to almost double in the next 30 – 40 years and Latino studies give people the correct knowledge so that they are more informed about how to adapt to an ever-changing multicultural population that is fast becoming the new United States.

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Does A Latino Identity Really Exist?

On the surface most people would agree that a Latino identity definitely does exist and it is probably pretty easy for a second or third generation Cuban American or Dominican American to claim that their real identity is in fact Latino. However when you look a little deeper, having a  Latino identity seems a little more complex.

Sense of community

In the past, in order to have an identity it is widely taken that people also needed a sense of community, a sense of where they have come from. A Mexican, a Cuban, a Puerto Rican all have a direct sense of where they originate from. Therefore, when people have a community or a locale, it is easy to tie your identity into those roots. However when you look at the term “Latino” it isn’t a place name, there is no zip code for Latino, no country, no city, no town, or village. It simply doesn’t exist.

The Latino label

In the past, many famous philosophers have spoken about identity. One in particular (Immanuel Kant) said that each and every person on this earth has a single and unique identity that lasts from birth right through to death. This thought of having one true unique identity that you cannot change resonated with a lot of people. From this standpoint a Cuban American or Dominican American might have a real problem with being called Latino. The reason for this is that the term “Latino” along with the word “Hispanic” was adopted by the Nixon regime back in the early 70′s.  The terms loosely referred to all Spanish-speaking people across the whole of Latin America. So whether you were Argentinian, Mexican, Cuban, or Nicaraguan you were classed as Hispanic or Latino. The issue is that each country or group viewed itself totally different from another country or group and rightly so.

A better perspective on identity

The thought of identity only ever becomes a problem if we continue to think of this in a rigid way. If you change perspective and differentiate between our uniqueness as a person and our identity, then it is easier to get over that hurdle. In a way our uniqueness is the cornerstone that makes up …well …us . However just as easily as or uniqueness is rigid, our identity can be fluid. We can have a variety of identities, whether that be a father to your children, a boss in your workplace, or a husband to your wife, these are all different identities. So in this respect one might suggest that a Latino identity is only one aspect of what that person really is.

Americano’s

A much better way of describing a Latino might be by using the term ‘Americano’. This phrase tends to symbolize more of the cultural diversity, that America has now become, and since this is where over 50 million Spanish speakers now live, then the term ‘Americano’ is certainly more apt.

In essence a Latino identity can be as confusing as it is deep. It is probably true to say that fourth and fifth generation Hispanics prefer to call themselves “Anglo Americans” and have in a sense become de-ethnicized. This brings it back to the initial question of does a Latino identity really exists?  One might suggest that this really isn’t as ‘cut and dried’ an answer as first thought and requires careful consideration.

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Latino College – 7 reasons Why Being A Latino In America Today Shouldn’t Hinder Your Study.

It is fair to say that the USA has a diverse culture, and a good majority of these people are Latino. A large percentage of the Latino community live in the South western states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, with the largest percentage concentrated in New Mexico. However when it comes to the education of a Latino, college opportunities in America have in the past been fairly low. More recently, colleges and universities are beginning to move with the times and now a good majority of them throughout the United States do cater for Latino learning. So with this in mind, here are some of the best.

Pomona College

Based in Clairmont CA, the student body here is made up of around 12% Latino. It has outreach programs that go into local schools and they also have financial aids in place to encourage Hispanic students to the college.

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State is based in Las Cruces and has been classified as an Hispanic serving institution. Out of around 16500 students, 42% are Latino. College institutions like this are paving the way for the rest of the nation.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT has a Latino enrolment figure of around 12% and is trying hard to meet the needs of the diversity of its student body. The generous financial aid program and the extensive scholarships offered by MIT only add to its appeal.

Stanford University

One of the most well known Universities in America, this Californian institution has a student body made up of around 12% Latino. In 2010, Stanford controversially eliminated the dreaded student loan for students whose parents earned less than $100,000. They will also cover the cost of the tuition fees. More than 20 different organizations are made available to Latino students. Stanford University really is setting the bar in terms of Hispanic learning.

University College Berkeley

This University has relatively high standards of campus diversity and around 10 % of the student body is Hispanic. They have a credible past in training law students and the Latino pre law society provides a solid foundation in which Hispanic people can study for a career in law.

Columbia University

Situated in New York State the Latino population here is around 9% . In addition to majoring in languages such as Portuguese and Spanish, students can also take undergraduate courses in Latino Studies and Comparative Ethnic Studies. There is also a myriad of student organizations that contribute to life on the campus and there is also celebration of Latino Heritage month.

Swarthmore College

Situated in Philadelphia, this fairly small institution has put itself on the map with regard to fostering multi cultural relations. With around 11% of the student body being Latino, the college hosts monthly student led conversations on diversity. This is where small groups of students meet to discuss identity issues and how they can be overcome. There is also a Latin American Study Association where students can meet and study together.

Although a purely based Latino college is not the norm, you can see that there are plenty of institutions that now embrace the diversity of a student body, rather than see it as a problem. This means that by choosing the right college or university, studying for that dream career could be more of a reality.

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