La Casa Latina turns diez with an exhibition honoring a decade of service

Locust Walk Art Fair poster


Dancers perform at "La Gran Fiesta" celebrating La Casa Latina's 10th anniversary.

For Penn’s Latino students, the Spanish saying “Mi casa es su casa,” truly applies at La Casa Latina, the Center for Hispanic Excellence. Since La Casa was formed 10 years ago, it has served as a place to meet other Latinos on campus and in the Philadelphia region.

“Latinos as a culture want to find the time, and a place, to be Latino, to speak Spanish,” says Johnny Irizarry, La Casa Latina’s director.

La Casa offers a supportive environment where Latinos can share their campus experiences, participate in events and discuss issues effecting Latinos locally, nationally and internationally. “They know if, for example, they have a problem communicating what they’re experiencing with their family, we can help them,” Irizarry says. “We know the culture.”

La Casa Latina is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with the creation of a photo exhibition chronicling the history of Latinos at Penn and La Casa’s evolution. The photos tell the story of La Casa Latina’s founding in 1999 by a group of students, faculty and staff and its growth as a student hub. The exhibit will be permanently housed in La Casa’s home in the Arch Building at 36th Street and Locust Walk.

Penn President Amy Gutmann congratulated students and La Casa staff, by helping to crack open a celebratory piñata at “La Gran Fiesta” gala held on Friday, Sept. 25, in Houston Hall.

Originally published on September 29, 2009