Roxanne Ocampo, also known as Quetzal Mama, in her book Flight of the Quetzal Mama How to Raise Latino Superstars and Get Them Into The Best Colleges, advises students to find creative ways to connect to your culture as an important component to building your high school résumé.
When college admissions are looking for authenticity, a personal connection to your culture is a way to show it. When they ask what could you bring to their college campus, your cultural participation is an example of diversity.
Ballet Folklorico is a form of folk dance that represents all of Mexico’s regions. My daughter Devina has practiced for 3 years with Ballet Folklorico De Frank Zapata who have performed throughout San Joaquin County, California for over 35 years. By the way, Frank Zapata was my instructor when I was high school too!
In her Junior year of high school, Devina was the teacher assistant for the Stockton Collegiate Folklorico Club where she intructed 15 students on 3 folklorico dances; “Toro Mambo” of Sinaloa, “Los Machetes” of Jalisco, and “Guadalajara” of Jalisco. She taught the choreography as well as the cultural history behind the dances.
Other creative ways to connect with culture are:
- Storytelling. My younger daughter Alanis has collected Guatemalan folk stories from her Nana & “Lela” (Abuela), her grandmother and great-grandmother. She spent time recording their stories, transcribing them into Spanish then translating them into English. She chose the story, Señor Coyote y Señor Conejo, to make into a booklet complete with illustrations.
- Cinema. My son Erik is planning a project that will coincide with a trip to Cine+Mas SF, the San Francisco Latino film festival, in September. He plans to choose a film to research with a peer group. Then raise funds for the group to attend the film’s screening at the festival.
Music, fashion, food and arts are a few more ways to culturally connect. Remember to be more than a participant in these activities. Consider organizing a group activity or research a specific topic that is relevant to you then share what you learn.
Be creative & have fun as you find ways to connect to your culture. That’s good advice for us all!