Section: Features

A medio camino amplifies Kenyon Spanish speakers’ voices

A medio camino amplifies Kenyon Spanish speakers’ voices

A medio camino is a Spanish phrase that directly translates to “middle path.” However, when used in context as the name of Kenyon’s only Spanish-language publication, A medio camino the phrase serves both as a nod to Kenyon’s famous Middle Path and as an invitation to bring the Kenyon community together. 

A medio camino was established in 2017 when Assistant Professor of Spanish Diego del Río Arrillaga reached out to the student body, expressing an intention to create Kenyon’s first entirely Spanish-language newspaper.  

“Kenyon is really focused on writing,” Co-director Sofia Alpízar Román ’21 said of Arrillaga’s vision. “Given that most immigrants in the U.S. are Spanish speakers, having this space in the U.S. and at Kenyon really made a lot of sense.”  

According to Co-director Dani Martinez ’21, A medio camino was the “baby of Diego,” who initially envisioned the paper appearing several times a semester. 

The notion of finding a middle ground suggested by the publication’s name is reflected in A medio camino’s mission, part of which is to connect the community and foster linguistic diversity on campus. 

“We were very much from the ground up, doing everything from scratch and not having much of a template,” Martinez explained. “We just kind of started without really knowing what to do and then took it from there.”  

Within a few semesters of A medio camino’s inaugural issue, the students were running the operation themselves. Though originally the publication had been conceived of as a traditional newspaper, the group soon chose to transition it into a magazine, printing less frequently to allow for more focus on creative writing and to prioritize the quality of each issue. 

Martinez explained that the magazine format helps A medio camino “be the best it can be within the constraints it has,” namely the limited number of people on campus who can speak and write in Spanish.  

A medio camino’s content is split into three sections: Nuestra Comunidad (our community),  which handles issues related to being Latinx on campus; Latinos en los Estados Unidos (Latinx in the United States), which responds to national and international news; and Escritos Originales (original writings), for creative writing. Together, the sections function as a platform for students to share perspectives and stories in Spanish, and engage with issues affecting Spanish-speaking communities, both locally and globally.  

Grace Cross ’21, section editor for Nuestra Comunidad, recalled how much she enjoyed writing her most recent article, which focused on the appropriation of Latinx culture in K-pop. “It can be us meeting anyone [in the middle],” Cross said, describing the magazine’s range. “It doesn’t just have to be the Kenyon community or the U.S. … the possibilities are endless.” 

The editorial team affirmed the necessity of A medio camino serving as a place for reflection on the meanings and implications of being Latinx, maintaining a belief in the value of sharing experiences, regardless of the extent to which they might overlap with those of others. Writing about personal identity “has implications not only for ourselves but for the community that we are a part of … [in that] readers might feel that it is possible to relate to their identities differently because of something they have read in A medio camino,” Alpízar Román said.  

Martinez, who came to Kenyon from New Jersey, commented on her own experience on campus as a minority, describing how she had “never really felt like [my Latinx identity] meant something as nuanced as it did until I came to rural Ohio … I felt a little pushed into an identity almost.” That feeling, Martinez said, translates into a majority of the content in the paper, which tends to unpack the concept of identity to reveal it is not a label someone adopts, but rather something someone becomes because society and geography defines them as such.  

Although A medio camino typically covers issues affecting the Latinx community, it remains committed to inclusivity, emphasizing that relationship to the Spanish language, regardless of proficiency with it, is what contributors to the magazine have in common over ethnic or national heritage. “There was a big division between people who spoke Spanish academically and people who spoke Spanish as a first language,” Cross said, describing the culture of her high school.  “That’s still present here, but by being in this publication I feel like I’ve gotten to bridge that gap … because we’re all working towards the same thing.” 

“[Writing in] the Spanish language … creates opportunity to have a connection with someone else,” Alpízar Román said. “And it doesn’t come from the fact that you have lived a similar experience or that you come from a similar background … but that you can express yourself better in Spanish.” 

Being part of a community engenders responsibility for its members, especially for minorities, Martinez explained, and such responsibility comes with consequent pressure to “represent a group in whatever way that it might present itself.” The pressure to be an advocate, she said, “can become problematic if you meet a Latinx person and expect them to work for the Spanish-speaking publication, and you expect them to be part of the Latinx group on campus — that’s where it becomes a burden.” 

But Alpízar Román made it clear that although the publication encourages Latinx students to write, it does not presume to speak on their behalf. “They have their own voices, if they want to share them with A medio camino that’s great, but if not that’s also perfect,” she said.  

According to its staff, this year has the potential to be one of the busiest ever for A medio camino, due to the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected Latinx communities. Alpízar Román felt it would seem wrong to ignore the topic. “Current events regarding U.S. politics have made existing in the space that the Latinx community on campus does a political act,” Cross added. “It’s impossible to be apolitical in this time, when you and your friends are constantly under threat.”  

In order to achieve its ambitions, A medio camino is searching for new members, as the staff mainly consists of seniors, many of whom have grown alongside A medio camino since it was founded their first-year at Kenyon. Section editor for Escritos Originales Nicolás Pulido Amador ’21 remarked, “I think there’s something interesting about having this magazine in Spanish being its own thing standing out — someone created this because they thought that Spanish was important enough [to have its own publication].”  

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