Archive | September, 2011

On Telenovelas and Family Connections

23 Sep

All through my childhood and teenage years, my mother and I had a daily ritual. At around 7:00 P.M., we would gather in the living room to watch the latest novela, a Mexican soap opera. Some of them made us angry, others made us laugh, others cry, and yet others were just plain ridiculous. The telenovela itself wasn’t important. It was the time we had to enjoy something together. Now that I am four hours away from her and can’t visit her all the time, I still watch telenovelas, so that every day we have something to bond over. Currently, we are in the process of watching Teresa, a telenovela about a beautiful young woman who is intelligent enough to succeed by herself, but has chosen a husband who will give her a prominent social position over true love.

The idea itself isn’t very original. My mother and I watched a story very similar to this one a few years ago. However, watching a telenovela isn’t about the story itself. If it was so, the often ridiculous storylines would not have an audience. It is always fun to hear my mother say something like, “That Teresa! She’s never going to learn!” We don’t take the “novela” seriously, but use it as something to laugh together about. And that is exactly what telenovelas are about: Togetherness. Telenovelas have become a part of Mexican families, and in turn, a part of Mexican culture. They are something that anchors someone like me to my roots.

With classes, an internship, and a part-time job on my plate, I really do not have the time to watch shows. However,  I make time to watch Teresa on my TV or to search for the latest episode online. It is something that makes me feel closer to my mother, and in turn closer to my Mexican heritage. Unlike American soap operas, telenovelas have the ability to mean much more than a “cheesy” story. Rather, telenovelas can become part of a way of  life.

Feria Para Aprender

8 Sep

Growing up with immigrant parents unfamiliar with the U.S. education system was a challenge. I’m lucky to have always been a straight-A student, because though my mother always offered encouragement, she couldn’t be of much help when it came to homework, study habits, and later on selecting a University and processing financial aid. Latinos are intelligent, but without active guidance opportunities are often overlooked. This is why La Feria Para Aprender (The Learning Fair) can have a positive impact for Latinos.

The Feria Para Aprender is an event that occurs in Dallas, Austin, and Los Angeles. It is focused on educating parents about the U.S. school system. The Feria features a pathway that is segmented into elementary, high school, university, and career/workforce sections to inform parents of what programs are available for each section. Rather than just place tables together and have parents come to them, each booth includes Spanish speakers that are trained to go up to parents and actively interact with them. Additionally, children take pictures wearing a doctor’s smock, a spacesuit and a police uniform, among others. This is done so that even at an early age children can begin to see the possibility of becoming a professional. The event includes science, technology, engineering, and math demonstrations as well as speakers respected in different fields. The Feria Para Aprender focuses on the future and on empowering parents so that they can in turn guide their children to success.

The next Feria will be held October 8 in Miami, Florida for the first time at the Miami-Dade College.