September 15th marks the beginning of Hispanic History Month and it is a very personal time for me in honoring my heritage. During this time, I often find myself reflecting on something that holds a special place in my heart – the significance of celebrating our Hispanic heritage through the power of oral storytelling.
I have a particular passion for engaging with Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), participating in panels, and taking part in fireside chats. Personally, I see these platforms as a valuable avenue to share my professional perspectives and experiences, but also my very personal stories as an immigrant and first-generation Latina. Our stories possess an incredible power; they can inspire and aid others on their personal development journeys.
However, I've observed a surprising degree of hesitation and reluctance regarding public speaking and getting vocal about our cultura. I understand that public speaking can be daunting for many, but more often than not, the primary obstacle is internal. I've heard numerous reasons, such as:
"My story isn't compelling enough."
"I don't speak Spanish fluently, so I'm not ´Hispanic´ enough to speak on a panel."
"I´m not a fluent English speaker."
"I'm not deserving of being a panelist or speaker."
Or limiting beliefs passed down through generations, like:
"Coma callado" (Eat quietly) or "los trapos sucios se lavan en la casa" (Don't air your dirty laundry) or "calladita te ves mas bonita" (You look prettier when you're quiet).
So, I'd like to share five reasons why it's crucial that we make time to speak publicly, share our stories, and facilitate these conversations, not just during this month but beyond:
🌟 Our Stories Shape Us 🌟
Our Hispanic heritage is a rich tapestry woven with countless unique narratives, struggles, and triumphs. These stories aren't just relics of our past but guiding lights illuminating our futures.
For instance, I often speak about my grandmother, a self-taught teacher who worked full-time, something frowned upon during her time. She helped countless children learn to read and write in rural Colombia while raising seven children of her own.
I also have shared the story of my grandfather, who fled Colombia in the early '60s due to threats on his life. With limited English and very little money, he arrived here with just his wits, his will, and his dream of a better life. Though being a treasury clerk in Colombia, he adapted and worked cleaning office buildings on Wall Street as well as other factory jobs. He inspired me with his resilience and perseverance and was instrumental in facilitating my arrival in the US. Without him, I doubt that I would be here today.
These stories are part of our heritage and can provide valuable insights and act as north stars to others in their journey.
🌱 Personal Growth Through Connection 🌱
Connecting with our Hispanic stories offers personal growth from an authentic place. It allows us to understand better who we are and what we are capable of. Our ancestors overcame remarkable odds, and their stories can inspire us to conquer our own challenges. For example, my grandfather's journey from Colombia to Wall Street in his late 40s reminds me that determination knows no age or circumstance.
🌞Empowerment Through Identity 🌞
Our Hispanic stories help us comprehend our identity and roots. Embracing our heritage reminds us that we belong to a vibrant and diverse community that has made and continues to make significant contributions to society. It's a source of strength that empowers us to reach our full potential.
🗣️ Sharing Our Stories 🗣️
The beauty of our stories lies in their ability to unite us. Sharing our experiences builds bridges between generations, uplifts us, and fosters a sense of belonging. I once learned of the power of this when a cleaning lady who worked in my home shared that hearing my story inspired her to leave her abusive husband and start her own business. Today, she thrives as a small business owner, employing several other women.
🌍 Global Impact 🌍
The Hispanic community is incredibly diverse, and our stories allow us to share our perspectives with those who may have had limited exposure to our culture. By sharing our stories, we counter biases at a deep level, break down stereotypes, challenge misconceptions, and promote diversity and inclusion on a global scale. We become ambassadors for change, spreading understanding and appreciation.
In conclusion, our Hispanic heritage comprises countless unique narratives, struggles, and triumphs. We can profoundly impact our lives and the world around us by embracing our heritage, connecting with our roots, and sharing our narratives. So, let's continue to celebrate our heritage, share our stories, and inspire one another on this incredible journey this month and beyond.
🌿If you're looking to step into your power by finding and elevating your story, let's connect.I'm currently accepting new clients who are ready to take this journey with me. And follow me on LinkedIn and Instagramfor weekly tips on Transformational Leadership.