I am a proud Latina, and more specifically a proud Mexican American. Growing up on the Texas border in El Paso, I was fortunate enough to live close to Mexico — the country of my ancestors and heritage — and experience the culture of my heritage every day. We crossed the border to even just eat or shop. But, now due to the increase in violence there, we no longer visit.
Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico City for work. It was my first trip back to Mexico in over five years. Lucky for me I work for a Hispanic advertising agency, which values this market. For the first time in my career, I don’t feel like the token minority in the office. I also have the opportunity to show corporate America how integral Latinos are to our economy and how to celebrate our culture here in the U.S.
The last time I visited Mexico City, I loved the fact that I was traveling to a new place, far away from the border towns. However, I was too young to fully appreciate the city's rich culture. So as we drove around last week, I was able to soak in the beauty of the city and its history. While I didn’t have time to sight see, everywhere I looked I could sense the pride and passion of the country – through the food, music, people, architecture, and more. I saw this passion in the parks, stores, and streets we passed by in the neighborhoods of Polanco, La Reforma, and El Zócalo. We were also fortunate to have homemade catered food throughout the trip. The carne asada, frijoles, quesos, pan dulce, and café made me feel like I was home with my family and also made my tummy very happy!
Working in Mexico last week also let me experience my culture in a new way. My team partnered with a local Mexican agency to complete two TV commercials. I loved speaking Spanish daily and interacting with my fellow Mexicanos. (I like to say I can speak Spanglish since I was raised on the border.) While at times I struggled with more formal Spanish words, every person last week was patient with me and helped me practice and learn. I appreciated the fact that they did not make me feel like I was any less Latina for not speaking more formal Spanish. They made me feel like I was part of the team despite the fact that we were from different backgrounds.
The best part of the trip was that we were working together for one goal – to complete our project geared specifically for the Latino consumer. My Mexican culture and heritage is a huge part of me, but I am also a proud American. After several years, my career and culture have merged together and I could not feel more excited and fulfilled. I love that my job combines both parts of my life that mean so much to me. I can’t wait to continue working in a field where I can excel professionally, all while embracing who I am and where I come from.
Do you feel the same way about working somewhere that incorporates your culture?
Sasha Monik Moreno is a Founding Creator and career and education blogger. When she's not sharing her advice on Vivala.com, you can find her at themodernlatina.com.