Most Latinos are familiar with Pan Dulce; it is reminiscent of cold nights huddling together on the couch accompanied by a cup of champurrado. Pan dulce reminds me of begging my parents on rainy nights to go to La Favorita bakery to get fresh off-the-oven conchas, then driving four blocks down to the tamale shop to pick up champurrado and salivate in the car as the smell excites us to take a bite. Getting home and ripping open the plastic bag to unveil the dozens of pan dulces that await us.
I have begun to associate Pan Dulce with the company of my loved ones, but I do not get to experience moments like those often in Santa Cruz; on rainy nights, I long to share my culture in these spaces that often lack it.
El Centro, a resource center for Latinx students, has revived an old tradition of Pan Dulce Fridays, inviting students to share a space to converse about issues affecting brown and BIPOC communities. Sometimes more formal than others, but they always emphasize the pan dulce, offering a variety of chocolate, white vanilla, and whatever the yellow and pink flavors are ( I always just get the pink one for aesthetic reasons). In these spaces, I can relate to other students about imposter syndrome as a Latina, the Latino presence in the city, or even just chisme (gossip); I can sing along to Selena’s love songs and ramble about Bad Bunny; I get to see old friends who I rarely get to see and meet new ones who are eager to connect. It is a chance to play iconic games from our upbringing or simply just sit there with your pan dulce.
In communities of color, there is a great emphasis on being raised alongside a community; it influences what we value in our lives. That is why I hold these events dearly in my life at UCSC.