November 11, 2022

 CoCo is an initiative that invited me to teach, but it took me to learn

My experience as a CoCo Coding Coach has taught me a lot. As a Spanish-native speaker, being part of this bilingual project has strengthened my knowledge of Python, and it has enormously increased my confidence in teaching in English. But CoCo is more than a learning experience, and of course, it goes further than an NSF-sponsored initiative. CoCo is a welcoming space, it is connection, and it feels like a piece of home. These feelings were just revalidated during my attendance at the National Diversity in STEM Conference SACNAS 2022 in the beautiful country of Puerto Rico.

Tamara Aranguiz, CoCo Coding Coach. 

During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with people across the United States and beyond and promote CoCo and our mission. We engaged with students, educators, and institutions. We spread the word about our methods and goals, where our main objective is to lower the language barriers that a vast majority of Latinamerican students face in Academia. We felt inspired by other’s people work, and we took new ideas to improve our strategies. But most importantly, we got recharged with a commitment to CoCo and to our Latinamerican community because we have to be our own best advocates.  I am hopeful that the connections that we made during the conference will reach the right people and will open them to the opportunity to meet the supportive community of CoCo conformed by the PIs, directors, and coaches. Honestly, I cannot wait to meet our new cohort and learn from the cool science many graduate Latinxs students are doing!

On the personal side of the experience of visiting Puerto Rico, closely working with one of our Co-directors Angelique Rosa Marín, in her home, breathing their rich culture, made this experience unforgettable. I met her lovely family, enjoyed their delicious food, and danced to their music in every corner. 

Angelique and Tamara eating mofongo with seafood! 

Tamara exploring Piñones Beach, Loiza, Puerto Rico. 

All that warmth had a lot of impact on me while being far away from Chile, my home, and I am very grateful to them for their generosity. Seeing Puerto Rico with my Chilean eyes not only evidenced the common history of pain and snatching that Latinamerica has suffered but also motivated me to continue fighting for justice and equity. Thanks to CoCo, to SACNAS, and to everyone who daily fights in small battles for a better world.