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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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‘Mi casa’ opens profs homes to students

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Mi Casa, Su Casa

The MSC program known for giving Hispanic students a “home away from home” marks 10 years of operation Thursday.

Through ‘Mi Casa es Su Casa’, a program hosted by the MSC Committee for the Awareness of the Mexican-American Culture, A&M faculty and staff host dinners on the third Thursday of every month. This year 13 hosts will invite students, particularly freshmen and transfer students, into their homes for home-cooked meals and a community feeling that can be lost in a student’s first time on campus.

The program was founded in 2005 by A&M faculty Luis Cifuentes, vice president of the Division of Research, Commercialization and Outreach at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and Victor Arizpe, Hispanic studies professor.

“Mi Casa started as a retention program specifically targeting the Hispanic and Latino freshmen and transfer students,” said Carolina Ramirez, cultural director for MSC CAMAC and sociology sophomore. “Many Hispanic and Latino students here are first generation, so Mi Casa wanted to create a sense of a home away from home, providing students with a home cooked meal, providing conversation, that atmosphere that students are used to back home.”

Ramirez said Mi Casa is important, because first generation Hispanic students can really miss home.

“I miss that aspect myself, and Mi Casa has been able to provide me with that sense of home with A&M professors and other students,” Ramirez said. “The name translates to, ‘My home is your home,’ and it really creates a sense of inclusiveness and familia and a sense of ‘What’s yours is mine.’”

Pamela Palermo, co-director of the Mi Casa program and bilingual education sophomore, said she first joined CAMAC as a freshman.

“[Mi Casa] sounded very interesting and I thought I should give it a shot,” Palermo said. “I went to two last year and I really enjoyed it. Mi Casa provides an opportunity to talk to professors and you make great connections in a relaxed setting. It’s in their home; it’s for you to have a good time.”  

Palermo said Mi Casa is especially relevant this month due to the fact that Thursday marks the conclusion of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“Even though Mi Casa is open to students from different cultures, Mi Casa es Su Casa serves as a way to embody the cultural values of Hispanics celebrated during HIspanic Heritage Month,” Palermo said.

Ramirez said Mi Casa breaks the stigma of professors being intimidating and difficult to approach.

“Professors have a lot to offer students,” Ramirez said. “It helped me understand that professors have gone through the same things we’re going through; they have advice and even provide us with opportunities along the way to network and keep in touch.”

Roger Martinez, Class of 1986 and senior associate director at the Office of the Provost, has been a host for Mi Casa for almost seven years. Martinez said being a host for Mi Casa is like being an extended parent.

“Mi Casa is different in that it’s a night where we come together as faculty and staff and we’re sitting around the table and we’re just talking,” Martinez said. “It can be any topic under the moon. It’s intimate — there’s 10 of us there and we talk about what they think, feel, and how we can help them.”

Martinez said the program has allowed him to see what students are actually thinking.

“We are mentoring them and helping them in any way we can, and not just that night but anytime. We both benefit, and it helps the kids get insight on the future and what they can do.” Martinez said. “I love Mi Casa — the kids are always so thankful, so respectful.”

As co-director of the program, Palermo said there’s a lot of work that goes into the program, but she enjoys it.

“My heart gets happy seeing students happy being involved in this program,” Palermo said.

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