The Conexiòn Amèricas Hispanic Heritage Celebration was held Saturday, September 28 at The Cannery Ballroom. At the annual gala event outstanding student-writers and professionals were recognized followed by capoeira from Brazil and dance performances from West Africa, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Spain from The Global Education Center. Guests grooved to new music and old favorites by Revolfusion and enjoyed Latin cuisine by Kara’s Catering.
Mayor Karl Dean and representatives from Nissan and Southwest began the Awards Presentation. Honored was Ella Pérez of Hume-Fogg Academic High School, winner of the Conexiòn Amèricas Essay Contest, “ My Hispanic Roots: My American Dream.” Honorable Mentions were given to Miriam Becerra, Glencliff High School, and Melody Martînez, Antioch High School. The Orgullo Hispano Unsung Heroes Awards went to Luz Belleza-Binns, a social worker with Metro Social Services, and Anne Moctezuma Galicia, a teacher at Martin Luther King High School. Kaki Friskics-Warren was named “The Amiga We Love” for her assistance with the opening of Casa Azafrån.
Amidst making merry with the macarena, guests were moved by Alejandro Rivera’s soulful dance interpretation of the immigrant story. Likewise, Ella Pérez ‘s prose was poetry-in-motion. Her essay concluded:
We leave our countries, our families and everything we know behind in order to follow our dream. The American dream. We do this just as many others have done. Just as the first wave of immigrants from Western Europe did, just as the second wave from Eastern Europe did, just as the third wave of Latin America does now. They once were discriminated against, called names and made to suffer because of something they couldn’t control—their birthplace. But now they are Americans and so will we be one day…I belong nowhere and everywhere. I cannot pretend to be American nor can I pretend to be Mexican just because I was raised as the first and born the latter. I must be neither and both all at once in order to be me.