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MIT student blogger Karen F. '11

On Latin American Things by Karen F. '11

Hablas español? Do you want to?

Omigooooooooosh (Yes, goosh) it’s spring break!

And by spring break, I mean that I’m not attending the last two classes I have today, because I’m leaving for Mexico in a few hours and I have yet to pack and blog and come on – it’s not like I’d be able to focus with the sky so blue. That pre-break twitch is impossible to escape, fidgeting all through classes, time goes more and more slowly, the lecturer seems to have been talking for 40 minutes when it’s only been 4-

yeah, there was really no hope for me. instead, i will blog randomly yet again to tell you all about The Month of March. Not that it’s over. But it’s pretty much over. Kind of.

I don’t know about y’all, but these were the longest three weeks of my LIFE.

Okay, so, I’m not going to talk about the fact that was was busy because I think you’ve seen enough “I’M HOSED” entries and really, the last thing you want to hear about and I want to write about on the Friday before spring break is homework.

Instead, I’m going to talk about the absolutely fantastic things about this month – namely, the fact that it was Mes Latino, or Hispanic Heritage Month.

Now, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding minority programs and special months dedicated to certain heritages and if you want to talk about that, I have an email address, and its kfig at mit dot edu. Let’s try to keep that discussion off the blogs though, or at least my blog, for now, and focus on the positive:

In three weeks, there were 29 activities. 29. Most of them involving free food of some sort. And if you attend ten, you are entered in a raffle to get a free 32GB ipod touch.

Yeah. I know. Wow. If that’s not an incentive to going, I don’t know what is. I made it to eleven events, and I’m thinking that there won’t be too many people who managed to make it to that many, so I think I have a decent chance. But then, it’s a raffle, so there’s really no way of knowing, and since I never win anything, I’m trying not to get my hopes up.

But dang.

So anyway, a list of some of the events they had:

• The Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES) Make Your Own Burrito Night.
• A joint movie night sponsored by MIT ASO and the LCC.
• A SHPE movie night
• A Teatro Latino Performance
• Latino Karaoke
• Cena Latinoamericana: A dinner for MIT students to talk with MIT Spanish literature/culture professors.
• Festival de las Americas: There were booths set up representing many different parts and countries of Latin America. There was TONS of free food and it was pretty informative.
• An MAES movie night
• A LUChA meeting
Te Para Tres
A Multi-Cultural Conference held at the beautiful Endicott House.

I don’t know if you guys know this, but I am of El Salvadoran heritage. Born and raised in the states, but I still love pupusas and fried yucca with a passion, and I speak Spanish at home. Though I can’t say I truly identify 100% with any culture, because I find it a bit limiting, there are definitely several aspects of my life heavily influenced by my culture.

It was strange to come to MIT and not have there be Hispanic people everywhere. I kind of took it for granted at home. You know what? I actually thought since everyone is making such a big deal about immigration, that Latino presence must be very prominent in all of the US.

And then, I get here to MIT, and people’s only exposure to any sort of South American food is Taco Bell. It’s really, really weird.

It used to be a little skeptical about these things, but it actually turned out to be really important to me to have such a great network of cultural groups available. Unfortunately, there are no El Salvadoran student groups (yet…), but I definitely think anyone who is worried about leaving a certain culture behind shouldn’t be afraid – there are definitely options available.

That’s not to say that MIT is a haven of cultural sensitivity, equality and diversity (there are two female Latina professors. Two), but there are definitely many opportunities to push it in that direction. That’s another topic for another day, though. For now, I’ll just say that the Multi-Cultural Conference I attended with Laura was definitely a worthwhile experience and gave me a lot to think about.

Now, last things last – I should finish up, because like I said, I’m about to leave for MEXICO.

MEXICO!! (In case you didn’t get it the first, or second time I said it)

Ahhhhh I’m so excited.

Oh wait. What am I doing there?

So this year LUChA started an international community service initiative, and I’m going with six other students to volunteer at an orphanage and cancer centers in Mexico City. Of course, we’ll be sightseeing as well. This is not the typical MIT-invent-something-really-cool-and-implement-it-international-service-project that are often funded by the Public Service Center, but I think it will be a very good kick-off to many LUChA trips in years too come.

I, unfortunately, did not have as much time to dedicate as my six team-members to dedicate to this project. I’m also trying to work on a Youth Activism Camp in the Phillipines for May, a relatively young but so far very productive student initiative to get more fruits and veggies readily available on campus, I’m president of Amnesty, and there’s CPW of course….and this summer I am participating in Bike and Build!

Yeah, I’m biking from Florida to California for the affordable housing cause. I’ll say more in another entry (this is getting long), but for now it would be AMAZING if you could donate for me. I have to raise $4000 by June. Just go to, click donate and choose “Karen Figueroa” as your rider. I would REALLY appreciate it.

ANYWAY. I got kind of sidetracked! Trip to Mexico! Not as much time committed to it as I would have liked! *Freshman Syndrome! But I’m excited!

If anyone has any questions or doubts about any cultural issues at MIT, feel free to email me. But I probably won’t respond for a week or so. Because I’ll be in…where was it again? Oh yeah! Mexico!

*Freshman Syndrome is the inability to correctly gauge the amount of things you can take on without spontaneously combusting or something. I always take on wayyyy too much. But I can’t help it! I don’t know if I’ll ever be cured. Life is too short to not do everything! Ahhhh

23 responses to “On Latin American Things”

  1. Snively says:


    I SO WIN!

  2. Will says:


    I sorta win.

  3. Snively,
    You’ve been admitted to MIT, every random thought you blog about becomes gospel to countless prefrosh, and you are a master of physics. Can you let someone else win the blogging contest? It’s all we poor prefrosh have. Third. I totally placed!

  4. Don’t know why I used my troop number in the name up there. Oops.

  5. Omar '12 says:

    LOL @ Taco Bell. What about Qdoba though? I love their food. I hope there are a lot of Arabic related activities going on.

  6. Edgar says:

    I had no idea your heritage was Salvadoran! Mine is Mexican, but I actually was born there…to which state in Mexico are you going?
    Have an awesome trip! =)

  7. Davorama '12 says:

    Woo! Puerto Rican here.
    Although I was born in NY so…Puerto Rican parents!

    PS – I love [most] Latino food.

  8. Isshak says:

    FINALLY ! You told them that you were president of Amnesty at MIT. PRESIDENT OF AMNESTY PEOPLE! That is huge ! We should all celebrate, although that is in fact old news for her.

    Yes, do talk about Arabic and African activities too! (And i remember that Qdoba was great! Hard to believe that it is made by Mac Donalds if I remember correctly).

    Snively, why ? WHY ?

  9. Shannon '12 says:

    WHAT?!? TACO BELL ISN’T REAL MEXICAN? My childhood was a lie. (I’m totally kidding everyone, don’t freak out.)

    Considering my entire city’s Dutch, though, I don’t think I can really be blamed for a lack of South-American-food-experience. It’s practically cultural radicalism for my family to have corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.

    It would also be awesome if you won that iPod. I’d be pretty jealous.

  10. Just Me says:


    Don’t you dare…

  11. cemilyd says:

    Bike and Build! I did that last summer (SUS ’07) and it was AWESOME. Are you on the Boston to Santa Barbara route or a different one?

  12. Isshak says:


    Er, she said “Yeah, I’m biking from Florida to California” so I don’t think she’s on your route. But I could be mistaken.

  13. Jake says:

    I don’t know about you all, but my favorite South American country is definitely Portugal.

  14. Anonymous says:

    my favorite is Spain!

  15. Anonymous says:

    i have to say guiana’s pretty cool cuz i know nothing about it

  16. Neta says:

    I grew up in Israel, but my mom was born and raised in Mexico City (as were my grandparents and relatives)… I would really like to take part in these events! they sound like so much fun and would be both nostalgic and new for me =]

  17. Anonymous says:

    lucky – your bike and build route gets a day off at the grand canyon!

    though in the summer expect temperatures around 125 degrees in the deeper parts of the canyon (!!!)

  18. Jonna says:

    Hi Karen, Lucky for you to be on your way to Mexico for spring break, seeing as how we just received another good 6 inches of snow here in Northern Illinois. I am so jealous. I hope you have a wonderful time. I’m writing to you though to get feedback from you on your experience as an MIT student blogger. I find MIT’s utilization of blog technology as a very clever recruiting tool and wanted to get some feedback from you or anyone else from MIT Admissions.

  19. Jonna says:

    Here is a link to the blog where I mention how MIT Admissions is utilzing blog technology to its fullest potential. Link:

  20. Anonymous says:

    Ridiculously random, but I stumbled across JKim’s studio site this week and was wondering if everyone at MIT was such a rockstar and had similar credentials . . .

  21. ANON MOM says:

    I just want to congratulate you for being at MIT and for promoting nuestra cultura. I am so disappointed that my son, who is 1/2 Latino was not accepted- he would have thrived there. But, it is nice to read your blog and get a sense of what is going on for Latinos at MIT.

  22. Have a good spring break. Mine is almost over now :(