UMWC is proud to support the Hispanic and Latinx communities through advocacy all year long. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to take a moment to shine a spotlight on one of our incredible employees, Ana Maria, what this month means to her, and how we can all work together to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and beyond:
- Can you share a bit of your own cultural identity?
I was born and raised in Caracas, -Venezuela’s capital city-, to a father from Spain (1st generation immigrant), and a mother from Venezuela.
I identified as Venezuelan-Spaniard-American, a Latina -a “caraqueña- in the South!
That means I love “arepas” (Venezuela) as much as “gofio con queso tierno” (Canary Islands/Spain) and fresh buttermilk biscuits (NC).
- Why is it important for our community to know more about our neighbors with Hispanic Heritage?
To learn and celebrate another culture is a way to gain insight, challenge prejudice and misconceptions, and build a bridge between cultures, which in turn may open doors to a more equitable and inclusive community.
Demographics speak loudly: “The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2022, is the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority – 19.1% of the total population. NC is one of the states with one million or more Hispanic residents in 2022.”
*Source: Hispanic Heritage Month: 2023
- What advice would you share for those considering ways to get involved in the UMWC and/or the Hispanic community – where to start?
Depending on your interests, there are multiple options: Reading Latinx authors, searching about Latinx leaders, exploring Latinx art expressions, learning about Latin American/Spaniard history, participating in community events, visiting Latinx markets, exploring Latinx gastronomy, sharing your time, skills, and treasure with organizations that advocate for the Latinx community, making Latinx friends!
- What ways would you recommend for individuals and families to engage and learn more about Hispanic culture here in Wake County? (*Triangle)
Enjoy the NC Latin American Film Festival in Durham and Chapel Hill, join festivities from El Pueblo, El Futuro, Centro para Familias Hispanas, check Raleigh Parks activities, your local library, and universities, explore food trucks/restaurants available in the area that cater to the Latin cuisine.
- In what ways do you celebrate your culture and heritage during Hispanic Heritage Month and/or year-round?
I celebrate every day. My cultural roots are present in the food aroma in my kitchen, “en mi cafecito de cada día”, and in the music tunes I often listen to, sing, or dance, in my Spanish accent. I also keep and nurture the relationships with my Latinx community: Family, friends, and colleagues; near and far.
At work, I am blessed to deliver services in a diverse work environment, and I am honored to serve -and learn from-, the Latinx community at UWWC. This month? I am excited about starting to read a new book: “Making the Latino South” by Celia Marquez, professor of History at Duke University. I hope I can watch at least one movie at the Latin American Film Festival.
A la comunidad hispana – ¡espero que hayan disfrutado de este mes de la herencia hispana! Hay mucho que celebrar y aún más para lograr. To the Hispanic community – I hope you enjoyed this Hispanic Heritage Month! There is much to celebrate and even more to achieve.