21st Cambio de Colores conference focuses on diversity of Latinidad and beyond
The multistate conference focuses on the integration of Latino communities and immigrants in the Midwest. The theme this year: “Identidades” addresses the diversity and intersectionality of Latine, immigrant and refugee populations in and around Missouri. Laura Gutiérrez Pérez is the Cambio Center coordinator, one of the organizers of the conference.
“I'm really excited to see kind of looking at those different identities and how maybe this idea of being Latina or Latinidad might change," Gutiérrez Pérez said. "Especially like immigrants, we have so many different experiences and kind of looking at what those different experiences might be.”
The three-day conference features a series of keynote speakers including Columbia mayor Barbara Buffaloe, University of Missouri system president President Mun Choi and other research experts from across the country.
Amelia Pellegrini, a graduate student studying clinical psychology, works with diverse populations throughout Columbia.
"I was hoping by coming here and learning more about, throughout the different days, different political action to help support that community and I'm also hoping to attend a specific panel in order to provide more culturally competent care and to learn more about the community here in Columbia," she said.
Buffaloe discussed during her opening speech the importance of inclusivity within communities and doing the work to make that happen.
“I think really giving the community an opportunity to engage and learn from that as well is so important. And it really is a way to kind of like bridge sometimes a gap that happens within academia and the community," Gutiérrez Pérez said.
"Cambio de Colores es importante porque es un espacio donde personas pueden compartir lo que están haciendo para apoyar a su comunidad," ella dijo. "Y también es un espacio donde las personas que a lo mejor en un lugar como Missouri, que a veces las personas latinoamericanas estamos muy separadas regionalmente, es una manera de que puedan tener un espacio donde puedan conocer a otras personas latinas, inmigrantes."
[Cambio de Colores is important because it's a space where people can share what is happening in order to support our community," she said. "And also it's a space where people can better a place like Missouri, that sometimes Latin American people can feel very separate regionally, it's a way to have a space where they can meet other Latino people, immigrants."]
To match the overall theme of the conference, Cambio de Colores panels, breakout meetings and speakers chose different aspects of intersectionality to highlight:
- Health access
- Immigration/refugee status
- Race and ethnicity
Athena Ramos from University of Nebraska Medical Center, spoke about mental health promotion among Latino farmers at the conference. She has been attending for about a decade.
"I think the conference has been great as always. I think this is one of the best conferences to come to especially as a Latina faculty member," she said. "This is my first time coming back pre-COVID, so it's been great to see folks again. It's sort of like a family reunion in a lot of ways...it's a really supportive environment where people want to help you learn."
To wrap up the conference, organizers added an extra day on the weekend for attendees to visit nonprofits around the city who serve Spanish speaking and immigrant communities.