A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Sanación del Pueblo brings healing to SRJC students

Chelsea Kurnick
Adrian Arango glues a paper flower together. They said the experience was calming.

Our House Intercultural Center teamed up with North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP), M.E.Ch.A. and Petaluma Council on Tuesday, April 4 to host Sanación del Pueblo, a free wellness and healing event for SRJC Petaluma students.

Featuring a farmer’s market, arts activities, massages, sound baths and restorative justice listening sessions, students found respite from the daily grind of classes. Student Health Services provided a kiosk with information about campus programs.

Caridad Celicia found out about the event from her English instructor, Matthew Martin. At one of the arts tables facilitated by local nonprofit Raizes Collective, she chatted with other students and made a big flower by gluing together layers of colorful paper.

Celicia said she enjoyed the experience. “It’s nice to have an institution support mental health and create space for healing. We so need more of that,” she said.

Adrian Arango, an SRJC student since 2020, agreed. In their third year at the school, Arango recently joined M.E.Ch.A. to get more involved in the campus community. 

“I finished high school during the pandemic, so we had no prom, no graduation. Mental health and community connection have been hard to find as a student,” Arango said.

Although new to campus, NBOP has partnered with community groups to create Sanación del Pueblo events for several years throughout Sonoma County. 

“Sanación del Pueblo is a mutual aid effort by bilingual community members who saw a gap in government response after the 2017 Tubbs fire,” said Our House Coordinator Kimi Barbosa. 

Four student fellows collaborated with Barbosa to organize the event, which took about two months to plan. Arts activities and massages were part of many previous Sanación del Pueblo events, but listening circles were a new addition. 

“We added in the circles to be student-tailored, as a way to demonstrate how we build communities of care and bring them into an academic setting,” Barbosa said.

Manny Morales of NBOP said the listening sessions offered participants a safe environment to share their experiences on campus and potential barriers to accessing care. The event organizers will present back to the college, sharing anonymous student feedback to help address any disparities, Morales said.   

Kelly Zamudio, one of the student fellows, said she was inspired to bring a healing event to the community after two recent instances of students publicly suffering mental health crises on SRJC campuses. 

“All of us are struggling after the incidents in Petaluma and Santa Rosa. We wanted to make a space for people to get the help they want and hopefully make friends,” Zamudio said. 

Sabrina Soco, a student in the Wildfire Resiliency Program at Shone Farm, found out about the event on social media and invited a friend, Eva, to go with her. After massages and sound baths, Soco, Eva and their dogs lounged in the sun, so relaxed they made the concrete look comfortable. The Oak Leaf talked to three students, including Eva, who said they’d gotten their first massage ever at Sanación del Pueblo.

“It’s important for students to feel that their well-being is cared for by institutions that usually take, take, take. This is a great way to keep up morale and support students in their studies,” Soco said. 

“We need more of this on both [Petaluma and Santa Rosa] campuses,” Arango said. “Events on how to take care of yourself and build community – we haven’t really done this since COVID.” 

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About the Contributor
Chelsea Kurnick
Chelsea Kurnick, Editor
Chelsea Kurnick (she/her) is in her second semester at SRJC and The Oak Leaf. Chelsea has a BA in Linguistics from UC Riverside, where she edited and designed the university's 51st volume of Mosaic, a journal of art and literature. Chelsea has bylines in the North Bay Bohemian, East Bay Express, The Press Democrat and Sonoma Magazine. She writes about the LGBTQIA+ community, social justice, and mental health. She hopes to attend UC Berkeley's Investigative Reporting Program.

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