Professor Martha Lucia Garcia, PhD, Social Work Program
What a great thing, to be asked to talk about why I like being a Latinoamericana!!! Let’s start with a few of my favorite things: Arepas de choclo, envueltos, empanadas, sancocho, BandejaPaisa. And if that does not spark your interest: cumbia, bolero, bambuco, danzon, joropo, Vallenato, are just a few of the many rhythms and sounds heard in my beautiful birth land. I am a Colombiana, born and raised amongst some of the most loving and nurturing people I’ve known. Green pastures, mountainous country side and the most dramatic diversity of ecosystems as a result of being the end of the Andean mountains, the Amazon, and being surrounded by 3 oceans.
But as circumstances would have it, I was brought to the United States at age 10, under the pretense of having the opportunity to learn English. I loved the first year here but, when I realized there were no plans for going home, the nostalgia began, and lasted for a long time. There was so much to miss, so much to love!!!
Now, I have two homes, the US and Colombia. I don’t totally belong in either one, and I am totally at home in both. I’ve been able to gather the best of both cultures, the best of both worlds. The work I have been fortunate to do and my professional life have allowed me to remain connected to both worlds, as Shamans say, I’ve been able to join the “Condor (heart) of the south and the Eagle (mind) of the North”. As a social worker my areas of focus included developing programs for immigrants and working toward ensuring their rights. I’ve been privileged to meet folk from all of Latin America and the entire world. These experiences have led me to think of myself as a citizen of the world, and yet, I will always be a Colombiana.
So, as I join in on the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, I’ll leave you with a few passages from the song by Martha Vega, Confesion. It somewhat conveys the feeling of belonging to two worlds. Hope you’ll google it and take a listen.
Vengo de una tierra
Que le sobra corazón y voluntad
Sueño con el día
En que le sobre la razón para cantar.
Vengo de un país
De una región que está embrujada
Por los indios que se niegan
A alejarse de su raza.
Tengo a un país
Atravesado en la garganta
Que no deja que me vaya
Acostumbrando a la distancia