Oberlin Blogs

My Love Letter to Zeche, the Latinx Heritage House

February 26, 2024

Angelina Martinez ’25

Often heard around campus and by residents as Zeche, the Latinx Heritage House is a home for Oberlin’s Latine community. This house being devoted to Latine care and culture is a recent development, one that multiple Latine students fought for. Zeche now has its very own page on Oberlin’s website, foregrounding the house as an identity dorm. Three years ago when I was a prospective student, Zeche didn’t have an informational page. Stuck between figuring out the difference between La Casa, a house strictly for the Spanish language, and Zeche, a house of Latinidad, I didn’t apply to either. 

For the incoming Latine students who are  unsure if you should apply to Zeche… DO IT!! I promise you that you will not regret it. Reminiscent of the refreshing feeling and smell of  VapoRub that your mommy rubs on your chest, forging a community with people who share your culture as well as understand your experiences is a well-welcomed relief in a predominantly white institution.

As of 2022, Dulce Rincon and Andrea Luna are the RAs of our house. Their warmness, welcoming nature, and dedication to the space are reflections of the community nurtured in the home. Please make sure to check out the house’s Instagram: @oc_latinxhouse. Dulce and Andrea have posted so many photos that offer a glimpse of the warmth we share in the house!! There is also a house tour!!

Dulce and Andrea: Zeche RAs
Zeche RAs, Dulce and Andrea, posing in front of the house's winter photo backdrop.

My favorite place in Zeche is the lounge—a node of life and love. We have a dusty, but pretty nice, fireplace in the lounge. Gracing the fireplace’s mantel are framed posters commemorating incredible events the Latino community back then hosted in Oberlin. Many of these events were to celebrate the students’ Latinidad as well as challenge the structures we survive through. Now they serve as physical reminders of the Latines before us, students who carved our deserved space into the institution. The framed posters are objects of memory that push us to keep fighting, because the community before us did. 

House Mantel
Zeche's fireplace mantel lined with framed posters of past Latine events
held in Oberlin.
Dia De Los Muertos
Zeche's fireplace mantel being used for the house's ofrenda during Dia De Los Muertos. May their love and honor live on. 

Dulce and Andrea once hung a Pitbull tapestry, with the caption “Been There Done That,” right beside the TV and Pride flag in the lounge.  Unfortunately, Pitbull was long gone by the time everyone moved back into Zeche for the start of the new year. #ReturnPitbull. #Setmyhomiefree. 

The Pitbull tapestry that was robbed from Zeche. 

Recently and in partnership with La Alianza Latinx, residents of the house will gather in the lounge and decorate for the holidays. There are rouge snowflake stickers still glued to the window and gingerbread renditions of us, the housemates, waiting for winter to return. 

Christmas Tree
Oberlin blogger and Zeche resident Angelina Martinez decorating the house Christmas tree for the holidays. 

As you walk towards the arch entrance of the lounge well into the evening, you will hear cackles and clanging pots. Birthdays are often celebrated in our kitchen and living room. Promises of life, love, and change have and continue to be spoken into existence in our lounge. 

Tzetza and friends celebrating their 22nd birthday in the Zeche kitchen and lounge.

When most of us are tired of decaying in Mudd (the central library), many residents will have study dates in the lounge. I can’t speak to  how much studying we get done, but the laughter and groans we share are a revitalizing way to end the night. As I walk back to my room and say my farewells to the lounge, I hear the ‘good nights’ and ‘sweet dreams’ that remind me that tomorrow will be a new day. 

Lounge Study Date
Zeche residents and friends studying and chismeando in the house lounge. 

As Latines, we are excluded from certain spaces. The fact that Latines only amount to 8.2% of the student body at Oberlin is a living testament to the array of closed doors we face. In resistance, we now OWN a house that is DEDICATED to ourselves. To our love. To our success. We are not just surviving college, we are thriving. It is important to note as well that we don’t always have to be strong. Sometimes you just want to decorate gingerbread men with pink rhinestones.

Angelina and friends decorating ginderbread women during a holiday house event.

Our existence as a community is an amalgamation of our care and resistance; where our house is a physical, tangible reminder of both. I don’t think I can fully express my feelings about Zeche through this blog. Zeche means so much to me - as it does for so many others. Truly, a new home and sanctuary. 

Fun Fact: Recent Oberlin graduate and blogger Minerva Macarrulla was a resident of Zeche and coined a new name for the house: El House, where ‘el’ means ‘the’ and refers to the ‘L’ in ‘The Latinx Heritage House.’ 

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