"So you're from Mexico right?"
"What is the food in Cuba like?"
"Mmm Ecuador, is that in Africa?"
I come from a country that is part of a much bigger region: Latin America. Although we share a lot of cultural traits and customs, each one of the 20 countries in this region is unique. However, when I moved to Claremont, I encountered a lack of knowledge about my region and the differences among each Latin American identity.
Because some of us have similar physical traits and speak with similar accents, people tend to relate our identities and think we all come from Latin America: the one-culture country. However, the truth is, the differences between all Latin American countries are countless.
Most of us speak the same language and could technically understand each other, but even Spanish is unique to each country. In fact, within each country, the local vernaculars are different from one another. The accents that people living in coastal areas have is completely different from that of those living in the inland regions.
The food, the music, the holidays… they are all different! This time of year, you could be in Mexico celebrating el Dia de los Muertos, while in Ecuador people are celebrating their National Flag Day and in Peru people are commemorating the Purple Christ Holiday (when their biggest earthquake hit the country but did not destroy a purple painting of Jesus).
Finally, ceviche: a typical Latin American seafood dish, is prepared completely differently in every country. I dare you to try each!
Being aware of everyone's identities without automatically putting people with similar traits into bigger categories is important, and has helped me not only to be more aware of my unique Latin American identity as an Ecuadorian, but also to be mindful of other regions and their countries' unique values and cultures.
-Valentina Emanuele PO'20