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Life’s but a Dream in Palomar’s Cariño Dream Village

As I stepped into the Cariño Dream Village, a few yards away from the automatic cafeteria doors exposing the energetic buzz of mingling students, I’d became aware of a very swift, obscure change– silence. A few quiet keyboard clicks and pencil markings provided ambiance as I looked up at the beautifully captivating country flags coating the walls of the space.

Cariño is a Spanish word used to express endearment. An English translation cannot encompass its many meanings. Cariño means affection, care, and fondness– a different form of love.

The Cariño Dream Village is a space hosting resources for students in the Puente Project, Dreamer Success Program, and Umoja. It is available Mondays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in SU-1.

Día De Los Muertos Decorations Photo credit: Monica Garcia

“The initial goal of establishing the space was to create a home for these three programs to continue to create cultural understanding of other students and their experiences,” said Dr. Leslie Salas, Dean of Student Success, Equity and Counseling Services.

The village space provides academic and personal counseling, and an opportunity for cultural exchange. “Healthy Mind / Sana Mente is also a service provided by our Behavioral Health Counseling Services (BHCS),” said Salas. Students can also participate in the mental health hour being hosted by BHCS Counselor, Mercedes Tiggs, every 4th Wednesday of the month from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in SU-1.

Providing a space that encourages inclusivity and support comes with its own challenges. With recent political turmoil–in the midst of an election year—undocumented and mixed-status students might feel as if they are balancing at the edge of a cliff that will either continue to provide their safety, or break away unexpectedly.

“I think one of the challenges we faced was trying to make sure the center felt inclusive to all the students that it serves,” said Umoja Coordinator Richard Carr, Jr. “In order to build a community, you need to have a space to gather, so the Dream Village serves as that space.”

Village Tribal Sculptures Photo credit: Monica Garcia

“Umoja” is a Kiswahili word meaning “unity”. The village representatives take pride in providing a space of unity and support. With nearly two successful semesters under their wing, expansion may be in the works.

“Right now, it’s like three families living in a house with one bathroom,” said Carr. He spoke of the challenges the Umoja and Puente counselors face sharing an office space. “We often need to find other spaces on campus to accommodate our larger events, and oftentimes the center’s calendar is filled with back-to-back events, which can cause us to run on a tight schedule.”

Success comes with its price. Although future updates might be necessary to uphold the village’s mission to serve students, Carr stated that the village is moving in the right direction.

Puente student, Janette Romero Vallego told The Telescope of several resources available at the village including conference rooms, desk areas, computers and printing access. Unlike the library, she feels a sense of intimacy and privacy when she visits the village.

“I recently actually went and I got help with my education plan and the counselor literally mapped it out visually. I’m a very visual person, I was really happy and glad that she mapped out everything. It was like a whole vision board,” said Vallego.

Cariño Dream Village Work Spaces Photo credit: Mary Adsit, Graphics Specialist

As the space is new, Vallego said that including more forms of advertisement could help with student outreach. “It’s a very welcoming place that people should take advantage of and just come out with friends or get some work done. It’s a very quiet environment…everyone should come and check it out.”

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