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LANA Bouncing Back From COVID Nosedive

Culture and Identity Center | Photo by Cheyenne Waddell | Edited by Kayli Thompson | The Wright State Guardian

The Office of Latinx, Asian, and Native American Affairs (LANA) has gone virtual this semester due to the coronavirus pandemic.   

For some students involved, including cybersecurity major Bill Corkum, the work they did for LANA took a nosedive once the university shut down classes last spring.  Corkum worked as a receptionist for LANA at their office in Millett Hall 154, but he also functioned as a “jack of all trades” within the center. 

“My position is one where I talk to people all day and mingled with students. My ‘work’ ceased to exist with the coronavirus pandemic. The only duties I can still perform are those involving making phone calls,” said Corkum. 

Corkum was introduced to LANA after a recommendation from Director of Undergraduate Retention Seth Gordon and has kept working for the center due to the friendships he has created since arriving. He explained that being a part of LANA allowed him to feel at home. 

“My family is from Cuba and I was born in Puerto Rico. Working there made me feel somewhat as if I was back in Puerto Rico or New York where I grew up,” said Corkum. 

A diverse community  

Any Wright State University student can utilize LANA if they need someone to talk to or would like to learn about different cultures; they do not have to be members of the Latinx, Asian or Native American communities. 

“It is our intention to be a safe and welcoming place for all who enter Wright State University’s campus and provide resources, academic enhancement, friendships, leadership, and cultural and social development for the diverse community we serve,” their website states. “We are open to all.” 

Moving interaction online 

Some students who are a part of LANA have not had their roles as severely impacted. Charline Phung, who is majoring in supply chain management, acts as Webmaster for the Asian Student Association (ASA). Though overall in LANA, she is “simply another person that welcomes everyone to our community.”  

Phung has been involved with LANA since the beginning of her freshman year of college and is now a senior. She explained that the pandemic has not affected her ability to do her job effectively, though moving to a virtual environment does come with some downsides. 

“Most other organizations’ events and meetings are virtual, so it is not difficult to go from one place to another. On the other hand, it is difficult to meet new students and make those connections through a screen,” said Phung 

Virtual events through LANA 

One of the virtual events that LANA is holding this semester is LANA Talk Tuesdays, where students can converse with Associate Director Mia Honaker through WebEx about the center. These chats are occurring every Tuesday between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. 

The center is also gearing up for Hispanic Heritage Month, which will occur between Sep. 15 and Oct. 15 and celebrates the impact that Hispanic Americans have made on society. Events throughout the month, which will include movie nights, a discussion on Latinos in the STEM field and a Zumba session, will be held through WebEx and Zoom. 

Even though the Culture and Identity Centers have not been able to open up their physical locations this semester, students who are part of their communities are able to stand together through these stressful times. 

“We may be social distancing but we are still there for each other in whatever ways possible,” said Corkum. 

Maxwell Patton

Wright Life Reporter