Nuestras Raíces

When the Europeans reached the Americas in 1492, different cultures met and ways of living changed forever. Even though many things were adopted such as the Catholic religion, other things were also lost. Many indigenous traditions coming from the Aztec and Mayan empires as well as from other indigenous tribes disappeared and from all of this, a nation of mestizos (of Spanish and indigenous blood) was created in Mexico.

Even after years and years of change, we continue to be connected to our indigenous ancestors in many ways and without even knowing continue to practice activities that reach back to these ancestral times. These activities and traditions connect us back to our ancestors and remind us that these indigenous culture are not really gone at all.

Women of all ages share their story of how they keep in touch with these indigenous cultures and stay connected to their roots everyday.

Kayla Angela Alamilla,age, remembers and stays connected to her Mayan ancestors through the Day of the Dead celebration. She explains that in Yucatan the Mayans called the Day of the Dead “Hanal Pixan” and her family goes every year to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to celebrate this day with other Latin Americans, and at home, various preparations also take place.

” At home, we make sure our house is clean the day before. The reason for this is because we want the ghost of our ancestors to feel welcome. We tie red ribbons on the children, so our ancestors won’t accidentally take them when they leave. We also set their favorite foods on the table, which often includes traditional Mayan cuisine, like chimole, tamales, tortillas, arroz con frijoles, and spicy hot chocolate, next to beautiful altars dedicated to them. ” said, Kayla.

Day of the Dead or as Kayla calls it Hanal Pixan, is a holiday celebrated by many here in the United States who have Latin American roots. These traditions are passed from generation to generation so they can never be forgotten. Day of the Dead is dedicated to honor those who are no longer with us and in Kayla’s family they honorher mother’s brother, her great-grandmother who taught them these traditions and her pet bird Kiwi who have passed away. This is how she stays connected to them and her roots.

Gabriela Prieto has found other ways to stay connected to her indigenous roots. For her, being involved in the Danza Azteca, medicine ceremonies, and other spiritual and celestial ceremonies, is a way to stay connection to past generations.” The feeling that I get out of being a part of ceremony and other cultural practices, is a sense of profound self-understanding, humility, and an always growing devotion to my community,” said Gabriela. “I get a feeling of being deeply connected to generations that passed before me and generations that will come.”

Her own community is who taught her to stay connected to her roots and everyday she carries out activities that bring her back to these as well.

“My community taught me how to conduct myself in ceremony, but I taught myself how to pray and keep daily mindfulness of the profound lessons I have been given over the years.  If it weren’t for the Indigenous community, I wouldn’t be who I am today and I doubt that I would be as confident in my individuality,” said Gabriela.

I think it is important to stay connected to our indigenous roots as Latin@s/Xican@s because the Indigenous being is half of who we are as Mestizos. “I think it is time we celebrate our Native American roots and honor the history of the ancestors who laid claim to the Americas long before any other human being stepped foot here.”

For other women, being connected to the indigenous culture has always been part of their lives, they grew up learning how to appreciate this ancestral past and they continue to be connected to it in every aspect of their daily lives.

UTEP professor and Director of the Museo Urbano, Dr. Yolanda Chavez Leyva shares that her father is the one who taught her about their ancestors and their culture.

“I think it started with my father, my father’s grandmother was Raramury,” said Dr. Leyva. ” So he always raised me with the idea that we were indios and he was super proud of his abuelita…so it was something I always felt was part of us.”

She has now made a career out of staying connected to her indigenous ancestors. In her museum exhibits and Mexican American classes she always tries to include something that will show others how we are all still connected to out indigenous ancestors. She participates in danzas and matachines and the Danzantes del Sol as well as in sweat lodges, an indigenous tradition. Dr leyva also mentions that she lives a spiritual life where she does daily prayer in the indigenous languages.

She explains that she sees the indigenous culture everyday in life even when many don’t notice it. “I could see it in the words we would use. I saw it in the foods that we ate.” said. Dr. Leyva. “I tell my students, I ask them, how do you say grass in Spanish, everybody says zacate! Zacate is an indigenous word so you’re still using an indigenous language.” Dr. Leyva adds. “The Mexican Spanish and border Spanish is very indianized, so a lot of the words we use, we think are slang are really words in Nahuatl.”

She finds that it is important to know where we all came from.” I want us to have very firm roots of who we are, ” said Dr. Leyva. ” It helps us understand that we belong to this land. To me, these practices or this acknowledgement, it helps us to have a sense of belonging.”

To be connected to your roots means to hold that place where you came from in your heart. Even when being miles away from it or in a place where not everyone practices that culture, the everyday activities you carry is a way to stay connected to your roots and to feel that place nearby. It is up to you to maintain it alive and as long as you keep practicing these traditions, they will never die.

 

Mi Quinceañera Chapina

Photo courtesy from http://quinceanera.com.

Photo courtesy from http://quinceanera.com.

At first, I didn’t want a fiesta, but my mom would not allow it. “My mama had a Quince, I had a Quince, y tu mijita, you will have one too! Trust me, you will thank me later,” she said to me. And so I boarded a plane to Guatemala and took a crash course in all things Catholic; three months later, I was kneeling in front of a padre receiving my blessing. There was a big party, lots of food, and so much dancing! While my quinceañera was probably the best day of my life, I didn’t think it was anything too extravagant. It was inexpensive and simple in comparison to the fiestas celebrated aqui en los Estados. Or so I thought…

My cousin, whom I had grown very close to in my few months while visiting, confided in me: “This has got to be the biggest party we will see around here for a while. No one has ever done something like this here before. Or had a doll like that,” she said pointing to my ultima muñeca. That day, I gave my cousin the doll, but she gave me a wake-up call.

La Tradicion Chapina

In Guatemala, traditional Quinceañeras are a bit different than the ones here, take a look at the schedule:

  • The day starts at 5am. Imagine waking up to what sounds like a million gun shots. Don’t worry, those are just the fire crackers your family has ignited right outside your porch.
  • They are immediately followed by a much more pleasant, less-frightening, sound. A serenata! A serenade during which mariachis, a marimba group, or family alone will sing Las Mañanitas to the birthday girl.
  • There is a long day up ahead, so the familia and the musicos enjoy a big breakfast consisting of café con pan, tamales, etc.
  • The cooking and getting ready begins after breakfast, which lasts almost all day.
  • It’s not until 7pm when the church rings the bells and the entire town starts heading over to mass. During the mass the girl receives her blessing and reconfirms her faith.
  • She is presented as a woman at the reception, where there is a toast and the familiar food and dance celebration happens! The night comes to an end when the guest can eat and dance no more.

Some of the significant differences between a traditional Guatemalan Quinceañera and those in the U.S. are:

  • There are no chambelanes. The Quinceañera has 14 damas, preferably ages 1-14, to symbolize the different stages of her life.
  • Dresses are pastel pink, baby blue, or Pastel yellow.
  • Padrinos are not customary.
  • The presentation usually does not consist of the crowning of the birthday girl, the changing of the Zapatillas, or the presentation of the last doll.

Guatemalan Quinceañeras have a traditional structure, they vary depending on many factors – money, heritage, religion, social preferences and, ultimately, the girl.

It is Really About You

In the United States, Quinceañeras, for the most part, seem to have lost their meaning. The more expensive the better, the more scandalous the more memorable. In “Sweet 15” Pamela Colloff of the Texas Monthly  writes, “…there has been a cultural shift over the past few decades; in previous generations, families of modest means threw simple quinceañeras or just declined to have them. Now it is common for middle-class and working-class families to throw extravaganzas, relying on a network of relatives and friends to help them foot the bill.”

“I didn’t have one. Mainly because my parents couldn’t afford one. My mom felt so bad because she couldn’t give me a regular one,” says Angela Bonilla, 20.

“I still remember what my father would say when I was 14, ‘Para que? You know people will only gossip about how the food was bad, and the party will end when the borrachos start fighting,'” shares Betty Arreola, 25.

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate your coming of age, chica. Whether you have a “traditional” quince, small party, or a large gathering, the most important part is YOU. Quinceańeras are not a competition; your quince is a day to celebrate you. When the day gets here, enjoy the party, give thanks to your family and friends, but most importantly celebrate it according to your values and your wants. If you do so, it is guaranteed to be a night that you will never forget.

Latina Musicians

Music2We are currently jamming out to these Latina musicians. Who is your favorite? 

Buffalo Moon/Monella

Buffalo Moon is also known as Monella. She has an eccentric music style, which is a combination of pop, old rock and Latino influence. Buffalo Moon sings in both English and Spanish so you have a wide variety of songs and rhythm combined with 2 amazing languages. With topics such as relationships and personal experiences, Buffalo Moon has captivated the music industry by sharing stories about her life. 

Check out: “Machista” & “Poolside Dreaming”

Esperanza Spalding

With African and Hispanic ascendency, Esperanza Spalding is a singer and bass player who has centered her music in jazz. Her voice is sweet and powerful, and her ability to play the bass/double bass on stage gives her performance something exceptional. Songs about relationships and being proud of who you are are abundant in Esperanza’s discography. 

Check out: “I Can’t Help It” & “Black Gold”

Raquel Sofia

Originally from Puerto Rico, Raquel Sofia  sings in Spanish and has a wonderful sound that makes you want to dance and wish you had her voice at the same time. Raquel has a wide variety of songs suitable for many situations you’ve probably experienced before. 

Check out: “Te Amo Idiota” & “Agridulce”

Natalia Lafourcade

Born in Mexico, Natalia has been in the music industry for many years, and has explored different styles, worked as a producer and has performed in a group and as a solo artist. Natalia is full of surprises; she has released many songs with artists from different genres.  Her pop/rock style is worth a listen!

Check out: “Hasta La Raiz” & “El Amor Acaba”

Latina Spotlight: Nydia M. Velazquez

Nydia_M._Velázquez_113th_Congress

Nydia M. Velazquez, the Congresswoman, is originally from Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. She was born in a family where she was one of nine children, and was the first one in her family to earn a college diploma. Her passion for politics took her to where she stands today.

She has shaped history numerous times during her term in Congress. In 1992, she was the first Puerto Rican woman voted into the U.S. House of Representatives. Six years later in 1998, Nydia was named the Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Hispanic woman to serve as a Ranking Member of a full House committee. The word “can’t” doesn’t exist in Nydia’s vocabulary! To add to her extensive list of accomplishments, in 2006 she was the first Latina to chair a full Congressional committee after being named Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee.

Velazquez is well known as an equal rights fighter and advocate of economic opportunity for the less fortunate and working class. Congresswoman Velázquez mixes intuition and sympathy as means to improve economic development, community health, environment, affordable housing and health care, and quality education for all the families in New York City. Nydia is a great example of how passion works as an inspiration to achieve your goals.

Like a GIRL!

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First aired in June 2014, the Always commercial “Like A Girl” pointed out a phrase that’s normally used in society—a phrase that, whether you realize it or not, has some very negative connotations.

In the commercial, people—men, women, and boys—were asked to do something “like a girl.” When asked to “run like a girl,” each person exaggerated their movements, acting weak and flimsy. When asked to “hit like a girl,” people made a show of hitting clumsily, or sometimes just slapping instead of hitting. When asked to “kick like a girl,” some pretended to drop a ball. One person, in their acting as a girl, added with a falsetto voice, “Oh, but that’ll ruin my hair.” But when the same questions were asked to young girls, they ran, they hit, and they kicked hard and forceful, like anyone would. So what does the phrase “like a girl” imply? That to do something like a girl—to be a girl—is to be weak and clumsy and, in general, to do it badly. The girls in the commercial certainly showed that this is definitely not the case.

Gabriela Moreno, a middle school student at Regents School of Austin, helped illustrate this point: “This guy told me I hit like a girl. So then I hit him like a girl and he never said that again.”

The phrase “like a girl” shouldn’t be negative—but it’s used that way.

Have you ever used the phrase “like a girl” to describe something someone’s done badly? You’ve at least heard it. Many don’t even realize what they’re implying. As school director Monica Moreno pointed out, “I have heard that expression for a long time and haven’t felt that it was something sexist. But then I realized that it’s used as an offense. That shouldn’t be an offense. It’s the same thing as the phrase ‘be a man!’. A woman can be strong and tough, too. Actually, we are. We need to educate people, show them that these phrases are wrong…most people don’t realize what they’re saying, we should show them what it really means.”

When doing something like a girl is an insult, how does that make girls feel? “It makes me feel weak and embarrassed,” high school sophomore Mackenzie Henson said, “It bothers me because there are girls who are stronger than most guys. By saying that you are demoting girls and making them feel inferior.”

So what does being like a girl truly mean?

Being a girl can be tough, especially when using expressions such as “like a girl” negatively is so prevalent in our society. But being like a girl is anything but bad. It’s being awesome, true to yourself, strong, and confident in who you are. Westlake High student Hannah Young adds that “Being a girl means that you can kick butt and wear high heels at the same time. It’s the ability to never let people belittle you or make you feel bad just because you have boobs.”

Just look at all these women in history who have left a mark on the world: Rita Moreno is a legendary singer, dancer, and actress and is the only Latino who has won the prestigious EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony)—like a girl. Mexican Hilda Solis is the former labor secretary and helped labor unions by pushing wage and hour laws and job safety regulations—like a girl. Julia Alvarez, a Dominican poet, essayist, and novelist, wrote pieces that changed the world—like a girl. The list could go on forever!

Gender should not stop you from being strong and powerful. “Being a girl is amazing,” says 15-year-old Rachel C..

“If you want to do something, do it. Being a girl does NOT make you handicapped at ALL. It makes you who you are. If someone says anything like “you ____ like a girl” you should say it’s because you are a girl and believe in yourself,” she adds.

So run, kick, hit as hard as you can. Be yourself, be proud of being a girl. And next time, whenever someone says you or anyone around you does something like a girl, you can go up to them and say, “That’s a nice compliment!” Because it really is.

A Corrido

You may have heard a corrido on the radio, on your father’s cds, or even from your grandfather whistling. These narrative songs, extremely popular amongst the Latino population, are widely known and recognized by many due to their universal themes and poetic lyrics. While these corridos all vary in popularity, they have served as an outlet, both presently and historically, for the Latino population to express themselves in a creative way about their history, culture and current events.

First of all, what exactly is a corrido? A corrido is a song genre found in many parts of Latin America such as: Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Mexico. This song genre describes a social, political and religious event shared by the Latino community and in many ways offers an outlet for people to celebrate, understand and share these events in an artistic way. A corrido is typically very structured and can usually be divided into five parts. It first begins with an introduction from the singer announcing that he will be singing a corrido. Secondly, the singer shares information and describes the main character of the song. Thirdly, an action presents the character, followed by an introductory farewell and lastly, the final farewell, also known as la despedida. Following this specific structure, these songs serve as a way to tell a story or a legend about an important person, historical event or religious occurrence in the form of poetry in a way that is easily identifiable and very comprehensible.

Escobedo_CorridoDeLaPersecusionDePanchoVilla_1938_M_MTRThe more popular and widespread corridos are those from Mexico, particularly those dealing with Mexican history. These songs can be dated back to the 1800’s and are most often associated with the Mexican Revolution. For example, the popular singsong for young children called  “La Cucaracha” at one time was used by the revolutionary hero, Fransico “Pancho” Villa, and his soldiers to rally against President Victoriano Huerta. Today, the song can be compared to a nursery rhyme or a fun sing-a-long but its traditional lyrics are loaded with political symbolism that reflect the social and political events of that time in history. Interesting, huh?

While there are many traditional folk songs that tell about Mexico’s history, today, corridos describe very important aspects of Mexican culture. They are important in sharing and dealing with issues such as: border-town life, special events, drug-related problems and religious stories. Recently, it has become a popular way for people to share a very dark story about the state of Mexico.  What has resulted is a genre that follows the same structure as a traditional corrido but deals with contemporary issues such as drugs and topics related to the drug war called narcocorridos. While the style and sound are drastically different from a traditional corrido, the song describes events that many people in border towns and in Mexico experience on a daily basis. This way, they not only tell a tragic story but they also express hardships in order to connect with an audience that is able sympathize.

In this way, corridos have served as a way of expressing oneself about an event, a person, or religious event in the form of music. While the musical part is important, the words are the ones to convey the real message of the song. The lyrics, many times, tell about hardships and people overcoming adversity. In many ways, these songs serve as a way of therapy, not only for the composer but also for the listener. Corridos serve as a way for people to find an outlet to connect with others and share experiences that directly affect people like them. So the next time you sing a song or listen to a song that you think may be a corrido, look for the clues and try to understand the REAL message.

Decolonize Your Diet: Latin American Superfoods

Raw Organic Quinoa Seeds

Raw Organic Quinoa Seeds

In recent years there has been a movement towards healthy living, which includes eating a healthier diet. As more and more Latinos face health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and different forms of cancer, it is extremely important to take care of our bodies. The easiest way to accomplish this is by changing our diet. Food blog Decolonize Your Diet teaches people the importance of eating natural food: “it is time to reclaim our cultural inheritance and wean our bodies from sugary drinks, fast food, and donuts. Cooking a pot of beans from scratch is a micro-revolutionary act that honors our ancestors and the generations to come.” So maybe we ought to think twice before we pass on the beans.

Here are 10 foods you can introduce to your diet that are not only super healthy, but can help you connect back to your ancestral roots:

Quinoa:
Quinoa has been all the craze lately, this grain is a popular substitute for rice. It is rich in nutrients and acts as a complete source of protein (something that can’t be said about other grains). Quinoa is rooted in Andes region of South America. It was one of the two significant sources of food for the Incas, the other being maiz.

Bell Peppers:
Bell peppers are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which provides potential anti-cancer benefits. Bell peppers have also been found to provide 7 percent of total vitamin C intake. Bell peppers have been cultivated for over 9000 years in South and Central America. It was first “discovered” by European colonizers in the 1500-1600’s.

Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds used to be available in certain health stores, the superfood seeds have become so popular that they are now common place in restaurant menus, and grocery store isles. There are about 140 calories per two tablespoons along with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. These seeds are popular as additives in fruit smoothies and shakes since they contain all nine essential amino acids, which are essential for muscle-building. Other popular ways to eat them include sprinkling into yogurt, oatmeal, or in a salad.

Chayote:
The chayote, native to Mexico, is a member of the squash family. In fact the word chayote derives from the Nahuatl word chayotli. Chayote comes in two forms, prickly and smooth. It can be eaten raw in salads or stuffed and baked. Other preparations include mashing, pickling, frying, or boiling. The chayote contains fiber and is high on potassium and low on sodium which makes it good for supporting healthy blood pressure.

Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America and have been consumed since prehistoric times. Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants and minerals, such as manganese, iron, and vitamins C,E, and D. Their high potassium content is great for lowering blood pressure because it removes excess sodium and regulates fluid balance in the body. They also help in reducing stress since they can help relax muscles and steady nerves. Sweet potatoes should be steamed or boiled when cooked to get the most nutritional benefit.

Sunflower Seeds:
Sunflower seeds make a great go-to snack and are readily available almost everywhere. These seeds are the actual seeds of the sunflower plant and have been eaten by Native Americans for over 5,000 years. They not only help get you through until your next meal but they contain high amounts vitamin E, magnesium, and  selenium which helps in preventing cardiovascular disease, maintaining healthy bone production and reducing cholesterol.

Papaya:
It is no small secret that papayas are native to Latin America. This delicious fruit was once called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher columbus. It contains high levels of vitamin E as well as the digestive enzyme, papain, which  has been shown to help with inflammation and to improve healing from burns.

Blueberries:
Blueberries are often included in health lists for their high antioxidant values and associated health value. However, what many don’t know is that this superberry is native to North America and Native Americans used different parts of the plant for medicinal purposes.

Peanuts:
Peanuts are not actually nuts, they’re legumes (similar to peas, lentils, and other beans) and are believed to have originated in South America.  Peanuts grew as far north as Mexico when the Spanish began their exploration of the “New World.” Peanuts are rich in fat, the kind of fat you want in your body. The monounsaturated fats in peanuts are important for a healthy heart. In fact they have higher levels of antioxidants than apples or carrots, which helps reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Cashews:
The cashew nuts, as you know them, are actually the seeds stuck at the bottom of the cashew apple. They belong to the same family as the mango and pistachio and are native to Brazil.The fruit is actually considered a delicacy in Brazil, and the juice of the cashew apple is considered a popular beverage. The nut itself contains many of the same benefits as peanuts, and it contains essential unsaturated fatty acids as well as monounsaturated fats that are good for your heart.

Spotlight: Rosa Guerrero

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Written by Renee Malooly and originally published on Borderzine 

Link to article: http://borderzine.com/2014/11/at-80-el-paso-folklorico-pioneer-rosa-guerrero-still-lets-faith-guide-her-steps/

Dressed in a bright orange jacket adorned with a necklace and a crucifix pendant, Rosa Guerrero flashed a warm smile, projecting the trademark youthful spirit and upbeat stamina that belied her approaching 80th birthday.

“Age is just a matter of the mind,” Guerrero said as she sipped her cranberry and orange juice drink, a mix she concocted herself. “If you don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter.”

Guerrero’s long resume in the professional dance world has not weighed her down. An avid dancer in all types of genres, a dance teacher of students that range in age from two-year-olds to 100-year-olds, and an ambassador for Mexican folkloric dance, her love for dance is evident in the rhythm of her hand gestures and expressive nature.

“I started dancing in my mother’s womb,” Guerrero exclaimed as she sculpted a simple dance move with her hands.

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Guerrero has always been a dedicated individual who never settles for the bare minimum. Growing up without a car, Guerrero said she would walk to dance practice downtown from her central El Paso home.

“We did without a car,” Guerrero said. “It’s not a sin to be poor but it is a sin to be lazy,” she said, proud of her humble origins.

Frank Lopez, a friend of Guerrero for more than 10 years, first saw her in her dance element at a nonprofit performance. Lopez is an executive director of Ngage, a Las Cruces,New Mexico, nonprofit educational organization.

Lopez said Guerrero’s kind nature makes her unique. “She’s very down to earth,” Lopez said. “She gives as much of herself to her community.”

A Roman Catholic, Guerrero said her strong sense of faith has guided her. She describes herself as ecumenical — someone who has a love and respect for other religions, beliefs, and faiths.

“To me there is only one God and he is our father and our maker,” Guerrero said. “I believe that all religions are based on that creator.”

Lopez said that Guerrero takes deep subjects of culture and race that are usually difficult for others to be open about, and makes them poignant subjects.

“She’s very spiritual in a beautiful way.”

Guerrero became immersed in other religions and cultures through dance. She is responsible for spreading Folklorico dance style throughout the United States after becoming the founder and artistic director of the Rosa Guerrero International Folklorico Dance Group. Guerrero said all individuals are unique and together make one giant tapestry, the title of a documentary she made that stresses this concept.

Guerrero’s nonprofit was the first Mexican folkloric dance group in the nation to dance at the Kennedy Center in 1991. They were also the first to dance for the CIA in 1992. Former secretary of defense, Robert Gates, was the CIA director at the time.

“He gave us a tour and he was very friendly to me,” Guerrero said.

Describing the performance for the CIA, Guerrero said the environment was very professional. Never letting go of her cheerful personality, Guerrero presented a gift consisting of El Paso Saddleblanket and Chile Company souvenirs to Gates on stage in front of the large conservative crowd. Guerrero said she jokingly told Gates that she is president of the CIA in El Paso, which filled the auditorium with laughter.

“All I did was break the barrier,” Guerrero said.

Dennis Bixler-Márquez, director of the Chicano Studies Program at UT El Paso, has known Guerrero since 1971 when he was a member of Teacher Corps. He said that Guerrero captures and represents what El Paso is about in an artistic sense through music and dance.

“What makes her inspirational is that she is a cultural ambassador for the city on both sides of the border,” Bixler-Márquez said. ​

Exposure of culture is important to Guerrero. Receiving bachelor’s degree from Texas Western College, now the University of Texas at El Paso, in elementary and high school education in 1957, Guerrero has worked at numerous public schools throughout El Paso to spread that idea. She hopes to spend the rest of her life writing.

“One written word is worth one thousand spoken ones,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero’s husband of 60 years, Sergio, three children and five grandchildren are strong figures in her life. She said everything she has wanted is to make her family proud. She is grateful for her parents and said she is thankful for anyone who has been a part of her life.

“God put you here and your parents give you your life,” Guerrero said. “The rest is up to you.”

18 Things to Do Before You Turn 18

10974162_390886677749379_2469496210793465877_oAdulthood is relative, some people have to grow up very young and start to have many responsibilities as a 40 year old person. And some of us are really lucky and we get our time to adapt to this new stage of our life. If you’re like me and you’re about to finish high school and haven’t started working or going to college, or if you really know how to manage your time, you need to do these 18 things before you get all caught up in the new things that will come to your life.

1. Go on a road trip with your best friends

This is something that you really should do, a road trip is an amazing experience that you need to do at least once. With this experience you’ll learn how awesome it is to travel with the people you love (outside your family), probably get to see so many different places and observe things in a way that you haven’t done before, and will be able to things that you don’t normally do.

2. Go camping and sleep under the stars

Whether you would like to do this alone or with someone else, camping sets you free. You get a day/night without technology and a place to appreciate what nature has given you.

3. Eat exotic food

Eat food from another country, as I read on the internet “food that you don’t know how to pronounce.” Even if it’s some simple drink to a fancy dish or a weird combination of food. Trying new food makes you aware that not everything in the world is the same. Not everyone shares the same food traditions and recipes. Even if you don’t like the food, you’ll get a good story about how the food gave you food poisoning or it was so spicy that your mouth felt like it was on fire.

4. Go to a music festival

The energy and the intensity of going to a music festival is indescribable; you see all kinds of people, outfits, music and everything! You get to meet new people and listen to great music. Music festivals are an amazing experience because of the different environment.

5. Make new goals

This is the time to set new goals for your future, whether these goals are academic, financial, of relationships or self improvement; being open to change and to accomplish new things says that this person is not stuck on the same and wants to become someone better. Life is about this, always moving forward and trying to do something good with our existence.

6. Learn to play an instrument

Taking the time and patience to learn how to play a new instrument will give you some tools to take advantage in the future; playing an instrument is not just because you want a future in the music industry, it can be as a stress reliever, it increases your memory capacity, enhances your coordination and it’s something you can do when you’re bored!

7. Learn the basics of a new language

Or learn a new language! This will not only help you when you’re trying to get a job, because it looks good on a resumé, this also helps you for when you get the chance to get out of the country and you can communicate better with the people living on it. Learning a new language is really fun and it gives an opportunity to explore another culture.

8. Do nothing for a whole day

Yes, even if this sounds silly and really easy to do, your mind and body will appreciate this because you get the most amazing day to rest and to enjoy doing nothing; just watch a movie or TV show marathon, play video games all day long or just sleep for 24 hours. Because once you grow up, you won’t get as many lazy days as you used to.

9. Do Something Nice For A Stranger

Buy food for a homeless person, give out money to charity, smile to people, hold the door for someone, give a compliment, whatever it’s fine! These actions can change someone’s day or even their lives! Doing something good for someone can be pleasing for you as well!

10. Start to work out

I know it’s not like a fantastic thing to do before you hit the 20s but this will do great things to your body and mind. Staying healthy and in good shape gives you a better life quality and probably add years to your life and of course, it boosts up your confidence.

11. Make a new friend

Making friendships is really important, that bond is so different and unique and at this age (and at every other age) we need someone to share our best and worst moments with. Someone new to have inside jokes with, someone to laugh and cry at the same time, someone to tell your life story to — who knows, they might even become your best friend. Making new friends doesn’t stop in high school.

12. Get a makeover

Reinvent yourself, do something good for you and/or for your image. Change is always good and giving yourself a change will make you feel different. Want to try that cute new hairstyle? Do it!

13. Learn about your heritage/ family history.

Ask your grandparents/ great grandparents about your family, any good things or events that marked your family, or just listen to them and their stories. They have so much to share with you, pay attention to them and they’ll open up to you.

14. Volunteer on a non profit 

Join an organization that does something good for the community, besides doing your good deeds, it’s a good way to spend your time and energy because it’s a positive thing to do for you and others. Plus, you get to meet new people and retrieve a little of what life has given to you.

15. Make a scrapbook of all the special moments that you had

Take pictures, write something on them, keep your movie/concert tickets and special things and paste them in a scrapbook. Or save a shoe box or cookies box with memorable items. Years later you’ll look back at it and be thankful that you kept all of those things.

16. Start a journal

Write every day; a simple verse, a meaningful quote, anything! Write something that happened to you that day and keep writing every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s something short, at the end of the journal/ year read a few pages and see how much you’ve changed.

17. Ride a “dangerous” roller coaster

Not dangerous “Final Destination” type; a super big/tall roller coaster that you may be afraid of. Those that make your stomach twist; get on one and defeat the fear of heights and feel the adrenaline. Plus, you’ll have a cool story to tell to your friends/ family.

18. Write a letter to your future self

Write the things you want to tell your future-you; what you expect of her and things you are sure you’ve already accomplished. Tell her that you need to be happy and achieve everything you want in life, tell her silly things about her that she surely doesn’t remember and needs to; some memories, weird habits, and even a photo! Open that letter in 5-10 years and see what has come true and what has changed about you.

Step out of your comfort zone! Even if you don’t plan to do any of these 18 points, do something that you think is fun or different. Your future-self will look back and thank you for taking risks and having fun.

Latinas in Brooklyn Nine Nine

Screen-Shot-2014-08-16-at-5.45.26-pm-1There has not been a large variety of leading Latinas in television shows. If a show has a Latina actress, one assumes she is there for diversity instead of representation. And shows having two leading Latina actresses are even more rarer. Suddenly in the fall of 2013, FOX unveiled its new comedy about the crazy antics of police detectives working for a fictional Brooklyn Precinct, Brooklyn Nine Nine. Created by two writers who had previously worked for The Office and Parks and Recreation, Dan Goor and Michael Shur. Brooklyn Nine Nine has won two Golden Globes so far due to its witty script, character development, and all star cast. The cast has a variety of actors with different ethnic and career backgrounds. Including comedy veterans like Andy Samberg, Chelsea Peretti, Joe Lo Truglio, and Terry Crews or dramatic actors like Andre Braugher. However, Brooklyn Nine Nine‘s most representational casting choice came when they cast two up-and-coming Latina actresses, Melissa Fumero and Stephanie Beatriz.

Melissa Fumero, or formerly known as Melissa Gallo, was born on August 19, 1982 in New Jersey to Cuban parents. Her parents are first generation Cuban immigrants. She was formally trained to become an actress, receiving her Bachelors degree in Drama from New York University in 2003. Fumero is mostly known for her role of “Adriana Cramer” in the Soap Opera One Life to Live from 2004-2011. While working for the soap opera she met David Fumero whom Melissa Fumero married in 2007. She also has had a small supporting role in Gossip Girl. It wasn’t until 2013 when she proved that her acting range was not solely dramatic.

 Stephanie Beatriz was born on February 10, 1981, in Argentina to a Bolivian-American mother and a Columbian-American father. Even though she has a large variety of Latino roots in her, she was raised in Webster, Texas. She graduated from Stephens College in 2002. It wasn’t until 2010 when she got her big break with a small role in the independent movie “Short Term 12”. From there she was attained a small role in Modern Family and eventually was able to get her current role as the short-tempered yet tough Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine Nine.

In an interview with Front Row Live Entertainment, Stephanie Beatriz was asked about what it feels to be a successful Latina actress within Brooklyn Nine Nine. She exclaimed. “I’m not doing an accent of any kind, I’m playing this great strong woman character, and there is another Latina on the show too. It’s not just one of us. That felt like a success to me.”