May 2016 Filed in: Dinorah
I first met Dinorah in July 2014 when I was awarded a Fellowship to participate in the National Associational for Latino Arts & Cultures (NALAC) Leadership Institute in San Antonio.
Dinorah is the Director of Latino Arts Strings Program & Mariachi Juvenil at Latino Arts, Inc. in Milwaukee, WI.
During our time together in San Antonio, we discovered that we had one thing in common: We both grew up in El Paso. Dinorah began her musical studies in El Paso with violinists James Angerstein and Abraham Chávez, both with whom my younger sister, Analissa, had also studied.
This picture was taken at a Salvadorean/Mexican restaurant in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. where Dinorah and I — craving pupusas — stopped for lunch in April 2015. She and I were reunited for three days at the NALAC Advocacy Institute.
When I took this picture, she had just told me that a few days prior she had become a U.S. Citizen.
At the end of our three days in D.C. Dinorah shared how emotional she felt to be in the Nation's Capital knowing that, for the first time, speaking as an American Citizen her voice would be heard. She was moved and hopeful that she would be able to make a profound difference in the lives of the immigrant young people with whom she works.
May 2016 Filed in: Melissa
Melissa is a fellow National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures (NALAC) Leadership Institute alum, who I met in San Antonio in the summer of 2014. She and I spent the first day and later the last day of the NLI driving around the city on a fun adventure. I knew that she and I would get back together some day.
That time came when I chose Tucson as one of my destinations during my Fellowship.
I contacted Melissa and without hesitating, she insisted I stay in her home. Once I told her about my Fellowship, she offered to put me in touch with anyone I needed to see while in Tucson.
Melissa is an accountant by trade and volunteers her time and talent to organizations like the Derechos Humanos and the Safos Dance Theater.
On my first evening in Tucson, Melissa and Mel drove me to local organizations and we spoke about what I might want to do while I was there. I learned how well liked and respected she is among the people to whom she introduced me.
At the end of the first night, Melissa insisted I try some local food (the best hot dog I would ever eat, she says), so she takes me to El Guero Canelo to try a Sonoran Hot Dog.
Very tasty! I was definitely not disappointed.