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Xavier seniors create space to discuss issues, culture

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Students gather for a meeting with the Xavier Culture Project leaders.

Students gather for a meeting with the Xavier Culture Project leaders.

Students gather for a meeting with the Xavier Culture Project leaders.

Madison Kloeber, Managing Editor

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Last year, two Xavier seniors, Celina Duran and Selena Teran, began to develop the Xavier Culture Project. Since the unofficial club’s first meeting on Jan. 25, they have held several meetings and hosted a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) call in which students were shown how to call their representatives to ask them to support DACA and help create a permanent resolution for Dreamers.

Duran and Teran were inspired to start the project after witnessing the Brophy Culture Project’s display at the 2017 Fine Arts Extravaganza. They saw the display, which represented different cultures through art, photography, currency and other items, as a celebration of culture and inclusion.

“We thought what they [the Brophy Culture Project] did was amazing, they were celebrating culture, creating an inclusive space for everyone, and were having a good time while doing it,” Duran said.

Duran and Teran’s goal was to bring this spirit of inclusion and cultural celebration to their campus through the Xavier Culture Project.

“We want to teach students about the cultures in our community and how to celebrate culture without appropriating it, undermining it [or] making fun of culture. We have so many amazing students at our school who may not celebrate the traditions that we do,” Duran said, “and that’s…more than okay because we can learn [about] and appreciate their culture.”

According to Duran, the Xavier Culture Project was introduced so that students would have an inclusive space to share their ideas, thoughts, knowledge or anything on their minds.

“Selena and I wanted to create a space where we could talk about issues concerning our school,” Duran said, “especially when it came to culture.”

The Project’s founders went to Dr. Lueken, who helped Duran and Teran host the Dreamer Call In,  to ask for his help starting the club.

“We went straight [to] Dr. Lueken because he’s an social activist,” Duran said. “He’s been incredibly supportive.”

Although they were faced with the challenge of starting a new club, which is no easy feat due to Xavier’s strict club regulations, they began meeting with the Students for Social Action. The Xavier Culture Project was then given their own space and allowed to host monthly meetings.

In past meetings they have discussed topics such as Black History Month, women in different cultures and first generation college students. During their February meeting where they discussed Black History Month, senior Joyce Karekezi, who will be studying political science at Howard University in the fall, spoke about her transition into Xavier.

According to Duran, Karekezi spoke about “[losing] a little bit of herself trying to be someone she was not,” which Duran noted was “something extremely common at Xavier,” and how she has changed.

At a different meeting, first generation college students discussed their shared experiences and applying for financial aid. “We talked about how it is hard for us,” Duran, who is a first generation college student, said, “because our parents did not go to college. They do not understand our struggles and problems when it comes to things like FAFSA [and] picking a dorm roommate.”

“We have had meetings with over 40 girls, so I think we’re doing something right if there are people that continue to show interest.”

Looking towards the future, the two leaders are concerned about the continuation of the Xavier Culture Projects. “Currently, Selena and I do most of the planning but we are hoping to continue the Xavier Culture Project next year, so we have talked to a couple juniors and sophomores,” Duran said.

Duran and Teran are hopeful that the Xavier Culture Project will continue and be established as an official club so that students will have a space where they are included and heard.

“Xavier only has one dimension on top,” Duran said, “but there are so many layers underneath that dimension that go unnoticed.”

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XCP senior, Selena Terran, discusses the Xavier Culture Project, an organization that aims to educate its members on relevant social topics and create a safe space at Xavier for discussion.

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Xavier seniors create space to discuss issues, culture