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Plative Stories: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, a few Plativites shared their personal stories around their heritage and family traditions that have influenced and shaped their lives. Learn more about what Hispanic Heritage means to them below! 

Ana Montano, Senior NetSuite Developer 

How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

  • My heritage has shaped the food I eat and cook. I have so many different recipes from my mom and my grandmothers, and they make me feel more at home.
  • My heritage has made me see the world in a different way since I know how Mexicans perceive the world, and how Canadians do. It has allowed me to have a more open mind.

Tell us more about your heritage. What makes you proud to be who you are?

  • I think the art that came from the mix of native Americans and Spanish is amazing. For example, we have painters like Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo and we also have other great artists like Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo.
  • I am very proud of traditional Mexican food. It became what it is today because of many years of mixing European and Mesoamerican food. The chocolate we know today is the perfect example of this. Chocolate only existed in Mesoamerica and was only consumed by royals by mixing cacao in hot water.
  • Lastly, in Mexico, we always say we have accepted the bad news (usually tragic events like earthquakes) when we start making jokes about it. This is not to make fun of the suffering, but just a way to keep spirits up and never forget to laugh.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Does your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?

  • The main tradition at our home growing up was gathering in large groups for Christmas Eve dinner. We would cook way too much food, so the party had to continue the next day with a Christmas day brunch. My maternal grandparents also honored the Day of the Dead (called Xantolo in Tenek). My grandfather set a big offering table to remember the people we lost. Lastly, here in Canada, I include Mexican Independence Day as our regular tradition, and yes you guessed it right, there is good food. This year, we tried to make the trip downtown and listen to the celebrations called “El Grito” at the city hall.

 

Joel Salazar, Senior Salesforce Consultant

How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

  • I was born in Mexico, raised in Colombia, and I have been living in the U.S for the past 12 years. My Hispanic heritage contributes to the way I make decisions on a daily basis and is at the core of my values and what drives me. 
  • Having a dual cultural identity allows me to approach life with compassion for those who look or think differently than me. I place great value in the little things that go a long way; the minor details that can mean a great deal to others. 
  • Also, being fluent in Spanish and English makes the world accessible and approachable as I can communicate with and relate to so many people.
  • The struggles and challenges that my heritage and background have faced have motivated me to disrupt the world, change paradigms, and fight stereotypes. This mindset cultivates my willingness to help anyone that needs it and to be eager to listen, learn, and innovate.

Hispanic Heritage Month

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

  • I love Hispanic Heritage Month because it allows us to highlight and showcase the beauty of our culture through art, music, food, and history. As a result, the community in the United States learns about the contributions, struggles, and advancements Hispanics have made. Hispanic heritage, to me, is about family, faith, pride, and love. It also reminds me to take a step back to reflect on how far our community has come and the importance of being proud of who I am.

Tell us about your heritage. What makes you proud to be who you are?

  • Our culture is very welcoming; as my dad says, “we have never met a stranger.” I love to make others feel at home and make sure they have all the tools to be successful.
  • I am very proud of our music because of the number of cultures and ethnic groups that have contributed to it since the very beginning. From Mexico’s emblematic mariachi singer Antonio Aguilar to Cuba’s “Queen of Salsa” Celia Cruz to chart-topper J Balvin to Texas’ memorable “Queen of Tejano” Selena Quintanilla and beyond, the Latin genre of music has evolved to become an incredibly diverse and influential part of American music.

  • Lastly, la familia is the most important aspect of our heritage. While in the United States, a person’s extended family may be dispersed, Latinos often live close to their family. Grandparents may live with their children and grandchildren, or cousins may live just down the road. There is always a reason, or excuse, to gather around and celebrate. The main perk of having family nearby is the sense of community. This is the opposite of many families in the United States that encourage great independence at a young age. I feel proud to have grown up in a family-oriented culture that allows me to be successful and empathetic in my personal and work relationships. The saying “It takes a village” couldn’t be more true of our heritage.

Does your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?

  • For the Año Viejo (which translates to “old year”) celebration, people make life-size dolls from cardboard, sawdust, and cloth and burn them at midnight on December 31. The Año Viejo doll represents the bad times of the past year and they’re being symbolically burned in hopes of starting the new year with a clean slate. It’s also an opportunity for creativity, with the dolls often depicting famous people, cartoon characters, and even political figures that people disagreed with during the previous year. The Año Viejo tradition is very popular in South American countries.

 

Solange Alvardao, Client Partner 

Tell us about your background. How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

  • I was born and raised in Canada, as a Canadian, traveling to Chile often enough where I had the privilege to integrate with my Chilean background and big family.  I grew up with the best of both worlds.  While Canada will always be my home, Chile is my foundation, it is where my entire family is. 
  • In most cultures, family is everything, Hispanics are no different.  Our families are our friends we let loose with.  I find the Chilean dialect to be one of the funniest out there.  Chilean Spanish has a distinctive pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and slang usages. You can easily depict a Chilean from a crowd, “somos muy chistoso”. 
  • Spanish is the second most common spoken language in the world.  It is expressive, romantic, and playful which translates into every style of Latin music.  Latin music has played a huge role in my life, being the basis for most of my childhood memories, whether it was my father playing the Spanish guitar before bed, admiring my parent’s gracefully dancing to cumbia, clearing the dance floor, or passionately singing to one of Marc Anthony’s greatest hits.  Latin music has opened my heart over and over again.

 What makes you proud to be who you are?

  • I am proud of being Chilean for two reasons- first, I am very proud of my family for who they are and everything they work so hard for.  Second, Chile is such a beautiful country with so much to offer, such as the people, food, the most productive ground-based facility for astronomy- the VLT, Eastern Island, volcanos, deserts, mountains, towering peaks, forested valley, crystal clear lakes, glaciers, Isla Magdalena (Penguin Island), marble caves, and bohemian paradise – Valparaiso (where my family is from), surfable beaches; and of course, the wine region.  

Tell us more about the Chilean Origins – “la history Chilena” 

  • In 1536 an outpost of Spaniard soldiers under the command of “Diego de Almagro” arrived in Chile, whose mission was to discover these lands. Later, in 1541, the founder of our country arrived, Captain “Pedro de Valdivia. This is how our history as a nation begins.  The Spaniards, already inhabiting these lands, blended in with the local tribes, creating new generations of citizens who would later be known as “Chileans.” 
  • Chile declared independence from Spain on September 18, 1810.  Making, 18 de Septiembre,  the most anticipated and celebrated holiday for all generations of Chileans around the world.
  • Over the years and for different reasons, waves of other immigrants from all over the world arrived in Chile and are fully integrated with the local population. The English were attracted to doing business with the new continent and controlling the maritime trade, with Valparaiso being the port of their headquarters. 
  • During the 1st and 2nd World Wars, a large number of Germans arrive starting from the war in Europe, who settled in the southern area where they remain until today, prosperous and totally mixed with the local population. Following Yugoslavian, Italian, Turkish, Israeli, Palestinian, and French citizens.  Making Chile’s cultural integration, a mixture of everything.
  • Chilean’s elected a female president, Michelle Bachelet from 2006-2010, which is pretty progressive for those years!

 

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Plative Stories: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

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