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A Home Away from Home

Portland State is Oregon’s largest and most diverse university, but sometimes the prospect of making personal connections can be daunting. The Cultural Centers include the Multicultural Center (MCC), La Casa Latina (LCL), and the Native American Student and Community Center (NASCC). Students from varied backgrounds can feel at home and share their cultural experiences.

"I think when you’re the only person of color in your class, it can be very challenging," says Emanuel Magana, program coordinator at Casa Latina. "We provide a space for them to really feel comfortable and at home, and in turn it makes it feel like the university's their home."

Besides offering spaces to socialize, relax, and work, the Cultural Centers also hold meetings to address learning goals such as leadership, intercultural communication, identity development and social justice. Events include Living Legacy: Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., weekly International Coffee Hour events and the Roots Festival at the MCC; Day of the Dead and Cesar Chavez Week at LCL; and Coast Jam and Heritage Dinner at the NASCC. Many of the events at the centers are planned by students.

Last fall, the three cultural centers were reorganized under the umbrella of the Cultural Centers. Since then, the centers have been able to extend the hours that they are open to students, plan more events and enable students to take on more leadership roles and responsibilities.

Since the reorganization, the Cultural Centers have been prolific in the amount of student-centered events they have offered, Cultural Centers director Cynthia Gomez said. Last year, more than 13,000 people came into the centers.

In addition to the Cultural Centers, Portland State also houses other communities and centers for students, including the Queer Resource Center, the Women’s Resource Center, the Disability Resource Center, and the new Veterans Resource Center.

"The common thread is that students see this as a home, a place to hang out, a living room," Gomez said. "That's the one thing they all have in common. It's that we all seek out a place where we can be who we are and feel comfortable with that."

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