Student creates community for Venezuelan students

Carlos Acosta, who immigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela when he was seven, hopes to create a space for Venezuelan students to come together on campus.
(Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan)

It took some time for Carlos Acosta to find his community at USC. 

Acosta, a junior majoring in industrial and systems engineering, transferred to USC as a spring admit in 2019 and hoped to find a community of fellow students who understood his Venezuelan background.

Acosta, who immigrated to the United States from Venezuela when he was seven, couldn’t find that community at first and is now looking to create a cultural club of his own that involves the Venezuelan population on campus. 

 Acosta was inspired to start the club because of his personal interactions with the Venezuelan community in Miami where his family lives. 

“Given the fact that I do a lot of community service with my family, we do a lot of collection of items that we send to Venezuela, and we do a lot of fundraisers, and we do a lot of food drives,” he said.  

 By creating the club, Acosta also hopes to educate the USC community on political and social issues in Venezuela because these issues aren’t properly reported on in the mainstream media. 

When he attended a solidarity protest in February and wore the Venezuelan flag around campus like a cape, Acosta said that students didn’t know what country the flag represented. While Acosta doesn’t blame students for not knowing about every country, he wants the club to educate more people on campus about Venezuela. 

“Ever since I moved here, I feel like a lot of students and sometimes faculty just don’t know about the situation that is happening right now in Venezuela,” he said. “Socialism has gotten so far, and it gets so far out of hand. It’s almost like a dictatorship situation, but it looks very democratic outside of Venezuela.”

Venezuela is currently undergoing economic and political strife. Thousands of citizens are taking to the street in protest of President Nicolás Maduro, alleging the government has perpetuated mass food and oil shortages.  

Acosta hopes students of all backgrounds can join the club to learn about Venezuelan history, culture and current events.

He is also currently working with his aunt, Marydee Marchan, to bring more resources to Venezuelans back home. They created an organization called All for Venezuela, where they collect donations such as toiletries and baby formula to send to the country.

The organization Acosta hopes to create on campus will help All for Venezuela reach out to the student population that otherwise does not know about the dire economic and political situation in Venezuela and teach them about the country’s culture and history through mixers, collection drives and outings.  

“It’s more to create awareness, especially in California,” Marchan said. “It’s been a little bit too far from Venezuela. Our community is very small so there’s not too much, you cannot hear in the news or you don’t see on the newspapers.” 

Marchan said the organization also needs to raise money to send these donations to Venezuela because of increased shipping rates from the United States.

 Andrea Marin, a junior majoring in visual anthropology and economics, is an avid supporter of the work Acosta is doing to start the organization. Marin, who is also Venezuelan, met Acosta when she donated goods to All for Venezuela.

 Marin said she appreciates Acosta’s efforts to raise awareness of the Venezuelan crisis because of the lack of knowledge around campus and in the United States in general. She also said she hopes that with the creation of the club, students on campus will have a better understanding about a topic that isn’t discussed in mainstream media. 

She hopes that through the personal connections Acosta makes through his club, students will feel more empathy toward the people of Venezuela.

“There’s not many Venezuelans on USC’s campus, but Carlos is definitely one of the loudest voices talking about what’s going on,” she said. “I think it’s really important even just getting the word out. He’s who don’t know about what’s going on, so I think that’s really crucial, and I really admire him for that.”