Benjamin Hernandez, Contributing Photographer

This piece was published as part of the News’ 2022 Lifting Up Latinx Identity special issue, celebrating Latinx Heritage Month from Sep. 15 to Oct. 15.

The Program on Ethnicity, Race, and Migration held a bake sale on Cross Campus last Friday, raising $1,710 for relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic following Hurricane Fiona. 

The bake sale was organized by Ximena López Carrillo, a lecturer in the ER&M department and the students in her first year seminar, “Latinx Activism in the United States.” At the sale, students solicited donations and sold a host of traditional Latin American treats including vanilla and chocolate conchas, mantecadas, alfajores and Mexican ponche. 

“The students have made all the decisions and mobilized others to help, I have only facilitated coordination and distribution of tasks,” López Carrillo wrote in an email to the News. “They deserve all the credit for this, and we should definitely keep an eye on them because they will do great things at Yale.”

Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 18, leaving more than 100,000 citizens devoid of shelter, food and electricity. As of Sept. 30, 44 percent of LUMA Energy customers — the island’s primary energy provider — remained without power, including major medical facilities. 

Fiona reached the Dominican Republic one day later, on Sept. 19, causing significant damage to physical and technological infrastructure. Over 2,000 homes were destroyed and over 12,000 people were displaced as of Sept. 26.

“Many of our students and even faculty and staff come from the very communities who will benefit from this bake sale,” ER&M chair Ana Ramos-Zayas wrote in an email to the News. “We have family in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and other communities in the path of the Hurricane. This is something close to who we are and what we do.”

When students introduced the idea of a bake sale to the department, Ramos-Zayas told the News, she initially expected “some small gesture” but was “really proud” of what the students achieved.

Norma Mejía ’26, who helped run the bake sale, noted that the event was not only an opportunity for her and her peers to help others, but a chance to celebrate their own respective cultures.

“Most of us in the class are Hispanic so we enjoy all these traditional desserts,” Mejía said. “We collectively came together and pitched some of our favorite treats.” 

According to the funds distribution report, 70 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Puerto Rico, which was more severely affected by the hurricane. The remaining 30 percent will be donated to relief efforts in the Dominican Republic.

Half of the donations going to Puerto Rico will go to Junta for Progressive Action, a Latinx nonprofit based in New Haven that is working to resettle Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Fiona. The other half of proceeds will go to Techos Pa’Mi Gente, a Puerto Rican organization that works to construct weatherproof homes.

The 30 percent of total funds going to the Dominican Republic will be donated to Abrazos de Esperanza, which is collecting sanitary items and food for affected families. 

The bake sale’s financial success was accompanied by a strong sense of community among ER&M faculty and students.

“Everybody in the class, we all just came together,” said Michaell Santos Paulino ’26, who played a central role in organizing and running the bake sale. “The fact that a professor initiated the conversation and then invited the class to join in, I think that was really unique.”

López Carrillo expressed her gratitude for Ramos-Zayas’ support, saying it illustrated ER&M’s “philosophy of fostering scholarly work that also engages with social issues.”

Before organizing Friday’s bake sale, students in López Carillo’s Latinx Activism seminar have  previously partnered with Junta for Progressive Action and Comunidades Unidas to improve local LatinX voter representation.

“In a sense, ERM is a product of solidarity. Solidarity and struggle are at its very core,” Ramos-Zayas wrote.

López Carillo was appointed as a lecturer in the ER&M Department in Spring 2022.

ELENA UNGER