What I love about being Latina: The richness and history of our traditions; the emphasis we place on family and friendships; that we are diverse, that we come in all colors, shapes and accents, but we all are united like sisters; that we love with passion; that we protect our own with fierceness; that we have sharp tongues; that we are loyal to a fault; that we have strict mothers who were hard to relate to when we were teenagers, but as we grow older we can say “now I know why mami was like that”… the fact that almost nothing can break us. We persevere, and we move ahead.
What I love about being Americana: The freedoms that this country provides for us… freedom, possibility and resources to pursue our dreams. I love the fact that by being American I have freedom of choice and freedom of speech. I came here from a war-ravaged country where you sometimes had to run for your life and this country gave me shelter. I love the fact that once I was a house cleaner’s daughter who slept in a small bed with her mom at the house where mom worked as a housekeeper, yet now I am an educated woman who has a fulfilling career and who can provide a good life for my own child. In this country, you really can dream and achieve those dreams. I love the fact that I can share my traditions and my culture with my non-Latino friends and they embrace it and value it.
My biggest challenge in growing up Latina in America: My biggest challenge growing up Latina in America was dealing with the ignorance that others have towards Latinos. How can I have tolerance for someone who upon hearing me speak Spanish asks “Oh, you speak Mexican?” or someone who thinks all Latinos are “illegals” or that we all come from the same place and we all know how to cook great Mexican food, when in fact, I don’t know how to cook Mexican food at all because I am Salvadorean! Ignorant people like that make my skin crawl and I have no tolerance for having to educate them.
My biggest support in growing up Latina in America: Without a doubt, my family!!! I would not be where I am today without their support and encouragement. My mother, who has a 6th grade education, never stopped insisting that I would go to college and that I would make something of myself. She has moved mountains and has worked so hard to provide me with opportunities. I am the first person in my family to go to college and their support and confidence in me was unwavering.
Why I am beautiful: I am beautiful because I am humble. I am beautiful because I don’t judge others, but accept them for who they are. I am beautiful because I treat others they way I would want them to treat me. I am beautiful because I am a mother. I am beautiful because I love purely and wholeheartedly. I am beautiful because I am not embarrassed to speak Spanish wherever I want to. I am beautiful because God made me that way. I am beautiful because I am a good listener. I am beautiful because I care. I am beautiful because I am proud of where I came from, proud of who I am and enormously proud of being Latina.