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Students searching for the best Cuban sandwich in Cambridge or shopping for the perfect Spanish course now only need to check a copy of La Vida at Harvard: The Unofficial Latino Guide to Harvard University.
La Vida—the first guide to Latino life at Harvard—was released over the weekend, and starting tomorrow, copies will be sold in Adams House dining hall. In upcoming weeks, editions will be sold in the other Houses.
La Vida began over a year ago as an idea hatched Leyla R. Bravo ’05 and Olivia M. Cancio ’05. The two created a subcommittee under Fuerza Latina, a pan-Latino student group, to begin the production of the guide.
Bravo, the president of Fuerza Latina this year, said the guide is an educational resource for the entire Harvard community.
“La Vida is a warm welcome into the Latino community,” Bravo said.
“The guide’s didactic purpose is to educate the larger Harvard community on the Latino community and how diverse it is,” Bravo added.
The guide includes a mix of serious and entertaining entries, according to its editor-in-chief, Iliana Montauk ’06.
“We wanted the guide to be useful for everyone,” said Montauk, who is also a Crimson editor.
On the more serious side, the guide recommends Spanish 40, “Spanish and the Community,” as the best Spanish course at Harvard. La Vida names Montrose Spa Deli, between Harvard and Porter Square, the best place to get a Cuban sandwich.
The guide also includes restaurant reviews, a Spanish slang section and information on study abroad as well as on scholarships and grants available to Latino students.
“The other guides that exist for Harvard students are splendid, but the problem lies in the fact that the Harvard community has changed significantly in the past 20 years in terms of where students come from and what their interests are...this results in the fact that one book can’t fit all student interests,” said Montauk.
Other Harvard guides include the Unofficial Guide to Harvard, published by Harvard Student Agencies, as well as guides for the black student community, Asian American students and women on campus.
Both Montauk and Bravo said they believe that La Vida will attract a broad audience of Harvard students who are interested in learning more about Latino life.
This broad appeal is reflected in the staff of La Vida. According to Montauk, of the some 30 members who make up the publication’s staff, nearly a third are non-Latino. Montauk even pointed out her own non-Latino background in the pages of the guide.
The guide was funded by the Office of the President, Fuerza Latina, the Undergraduate Council and the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, according to Montauk. She said the publication required about $6,000 to print and about $2,000 to cover other costs associated with the writing of the guide.
Montauk said 2,000 copies of La Vida were printed and will be sold to undergraduates for $6 and to other buyers for $12.
She said editors plan to publish La Vida annually and place a significant amount of its text online on its own website, www.lavidaharvard.org.
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