By Analía Weber

Throughout my life, I have had the privilege of meeting amazing individuals. From creatives, to thinkers, doers and shakers, each individual that has crossed my path has had an imprint in me. I am  excited to highlight Latinxs voices this month in our community for two reasons. The first being a desire to not only lift their voices to showcase what they are doing in our Northern Colorado community but also as I am searching to redefine my ‘latinaness’. I have been feeling like I have lost it and have been searching for it furiously. As I near 40 early next year, I have been in the United States longer than I have been in my country of Puerto Rico. Still, I consider myself a Puerto Rican who made the decision to stay in the United States because at the time it was going to further my career as a professional dancer.

Being in this country for 21 years, I have seen different ways I have carried my ‘latiness’. This month, as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I see that there are many ways to live one’s culture and history and that there is not one way anybody can be more ‘latino’ than someone else. Our roots run deep and they intertwine with one another’s stories of origin as we continue to fertilize this diverse soil we stand on with our hopes for a more inclusive and equitable community.

I had the privilege to virtually sit with Rhonda Solis and Cristobal Garcia from Latinos Northern Colorado Podcast, an interview style podcast focusing on issues and opportunities impacting Latinos living, working, growing, and playing in Northern Colorado, and the contributions of Latino leaders in our community and across the country. It is always interesting to me how people find one another and decide to do something with that kinship. They have taken their common passions, curiosities and purposes to make something good.

Both Rhonda and Cristobal were raised in Greely, proud Spartans, and in spite of their different histories they found a lot in common. Yet they both felt called to dig deeper into their cultural upbringing, what that meant for them, and the others who shared stories like theirs in the community. During our time together over Zoom I was inspired by Rhonda’s desire to move her career from the private sector to getting involved in the school district and Cristobal’s education journey taking him to now be a fellow for Hispanic Serving Institution at UNC. Rhonda and Cristobal found each other through the Latin circle in Northern Colorado. Right away upon their meeting, they discovered they could collaborate to create a platform in which topics they both were passionate about could be shared.

Their podcast, in English, found its way to me via a professional networking platform. As it appeared on my screen I was immediately intrigued. To be honest, I cling to anything remotely latin these days as it makes me feel closer to a part of me that feels so far away. I clicked, read about them and knew I had to connect with them. My virtual hour with them felt like the history lesson I have never gotten since living in the United States.  At the same time it felt that I was in the company of people that feel the same way I do: there has been a lot of progress made but at the same time it reveals all the work that still needs to be done.

I could go on about all that we shared on the gaps we still see for residents in Northern Colorado and our hopes in seeing changes. But instead,  I invite you to listen to their podcast. Because whether you think issues of racial and cultural inequality affect you directly or not, these are things that take place in our community.  I urge you to stay curious, learn something new and allow yourself to listen to their voices as they are the voices of our community.

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