As a part of their final project for Professor Teresa Gonzales’ class “Latinx in Space,” seniors Sebastian Llavaneras and Almira Karajic and juniors Kayti Everette and Miranda Corbett have created a Facebook page called “LatiKnox” to chronicle the impact of the Latinx community at Knox College.
“LatiKnox is a virtual space made to amplify the voice of Latinx students on campus and in Galesburg,” Corbett said. “I think virtual space is really interesting because you can reach a wider audience than you can with physical space. And also it is transparent and accessible to the public. It is no longer something that exists for only a moment on campus. It’s important because space can foster communities and a sense of home and belonging.”
The project began after the group was assigned to utilize a virtual space. Whereas other groups in the course had to transform physical spaces, either through art or various events, the members of the LatiKnox group had to find a way to create a space online. As Llavaneras explained, the group quickly realized that Facebook would be the best way for them to create an online presence.
“A virtual space is a very open space, but at the same time there’s a lot of restrictions in terms of what you can do, in terms of technical ability,” Llavaneras said.
“We couldn’t make a website … Snapchat is kind of ethereal, and Instagram is sort of small compared to Facebook and doesn’t have the same community-making features.”
The course “Latinx in Space” is meant to explore how Latinx communities interact with and modify the places in which they live.
“In the context of space, because it is so abstract, it can contain a lot of things,” Llavaneras said, regarding the focus of the class. “It can convey any issue: how M.E.Ch.A. taking over a space for a protest affects the campus. It’s very important, I think, the way we occupy space and the way we interact with space. It’s a theoretical lens that helps you see a lot of different things and helps you focus it down to an aspect and make it more tangible.”
Other projects involved physical spaces. The four other groups transformed areas of the Knox campus by putting on a talk show, “The Latin@/x Report,” in Taylor Lounge; making visual art with chalk drawings; hosting live performances at the Plaza Knox event in the Gizmo and a Latinx poetry event that was also held in the Gizmo.
Once the LatiKnox group created their Facebook page, their goal became to showcase Knox’s Latinx community through video interviews and post videos of the projects made by other groups in the “Latinx in Space” class.
“We go to students, professors and members of the community and ask them about their experiences,” Corbett explained, citing the popular “Humans of New York” Facebook page as an initial influence for the group.
Kara explained that the page is also an efficient way to centralize different voices from the Latinx community on campus. Rather than having to follow several cultural clubs and event pages, the LatiKnox group is trying to make it easier for students to know what is happening by sharing a variety of links, such as those from M.E.Ch.A. and Lo Nuestro, all on one page.
“For example, if you don’t follow M.E.Ch.A. you wouldn’t necessarily know what they’re doing, and their events happen so frequently that it’s hard to keep up, so our page can filter some of that as well,” Kara explained. “It’s just an easy way to keep up with the Knox community without having it be something that you actively seek … [a Facebook update] just pops up because we do it very frequently.”
Though the group has found that most people on their page were willing to be interviewed, one of their initial struggles was trying to get enough followers to make an impact. They decided to advertise their page by writing on whiteboards and placing flyers in the library. As time goes on, there has been a rise in enthusiasm towards getting involved with the project.
“Something me and Kayti have been thinking about is carrying on the page … people are interested in becoming administrators,” Corbett said about the future of LatiKnox. “So it seems like it’s something that’s going to expand beyond just the group project.”