Recently, Vanguard crew sat down to discuss the Latino experience and what it means to be Latino in America. What they discovered is that the question can’t be answered – but it should be explored.
Latinos have similarities, but are not one in the same. Our various countries of origin, religions, cultures, and socio-economic statuses all make it impossible to come up with one typical Latino experience. Vanguard crew discussed this very topic during an event hosted by our Hispanic/Latino Organization for Leadership and Advancement (HOLA). This event, titled Voces (Spanish for ‘Voices’), is a crew led dialogue program that promotes conversation regarding the Hispanic/Latino community in an inclusive environment where crew members are encouraged to share their stories and experiences. At the first event, crew watched a TED Talk about the Latino experience in America and then discussed their reactions to the presentation. It really enabled crew to open up about perceptions and misconceptions, and educate our fellow crew members on how to embrace our differences. This was all while realizing, as discussed in the TED Talk, that what bonded us together was the fact that we are perceived as being one homogenous group.
During other Voces gatherings, crew members shared their personal experiences on immigration: immigrating from an early age, immigrating from a later age, their reasons for immigrating, their experiences adapting to a new country, culture and language, and what it felt like being undocumented. We also discussed the Mother Tongue, which many assume to be Spanish, but is not always the case. Several crew members discussed how not learning Spanish impacted their feelings of belonging, and shared reasons why their parents did not teach them the language.
While conversations such as these are beneficial, HOLA hosts some lighter activities. One example was Sweet Memories, a gathering where crew brought in their favorite dessert, then shared the country of origin, the recipe, and the story behind it. We had tons of desserts – tembleque, Mexican wedding cookies, pastelillos de guayaba y queso. We learned about the typical desserts from places such as: Puerto Rico, Colombia, Mexico, Bolivia, and Venezuela, just to name a few. As crew learned about the dessert from everyone’s country of origin, they discovered a little more about each other, as well.
Perhaps these events answer one question about being Latino in America. Wherever you come from, whatever your experience, whatever you bring, it is something to celebrate.