I had the pleasure of visiting with two talented and inspirational ladies of Austin, Damita Miller-Shanklin and Evelina Solis. These motivational leaders co-host the Ujima TV show on channelAustin, public access television. Evelina invited me to come on the show and share Dulce’s literary adventures with its viewers. Of course I was thrilled to accept the invitation to promote Dulce Bread & Book Shop’s website launch and the current book events that the bookstore has on its calendar. It was more than a pleasure sitting among these two phenomenal women. We discussed our love for literature and reading, as well as the community’s need for a stronger voice in promoting local authors, specifically authors of color, and bilingual books. The experience of taping a TV show, with nerves and adrenaline rush, reminded me of my first day at school when my family first crossed over into the United States.
As an 8 year old I was scared and nervous, but I was not going to allow others to witness my anxiety. So on the first day of school I dressed up in my Sunday best, brushed out my curly brown hair, now frizzy, and put on a strong face. Oh how I would give anything for a photograph of that day. The classroom was brightly lit, furniture and supplies neatly organized, and the tallest and toughest-looking teacher I have ever had, standing by her desk. My adrenaline must have hit an all time high. I did not understand one word of English and would say even less. I sat where indicated and stared at all my foreign classmates in terror and envy. They knew each other, were able to talk with one another, and understood this thing called 2ndgrade. Unfortunately the teacher did not know one word of Spanish and would say even less. Funny how we were in the same boat, yet it seemed like she had a greater advantage over me. That first year would be the most difficult experience of my life. I have experienced more, however have learned to enjoy the newness, managed to surpass the jitters, and allowed myself to be, well, myself. Indeed this first cultural experience led to my current passion of promoting culture and advocating for multilingualism through the unique experience of literature and language.
I anxiously await the preview of the show’s taping. I am certain that the viewers’ experience will be novel, a bit jittery, and yet, all about Dulce’s mission to “provide an international experience through literature, language, and cultural programs, and a predilection for ethnic flavors and aromas.” I look forward to sharing a brief clip of the show here.
About Ujima’s Co-Hosts
Damita Miller-Shanklin is the Publisher for Ujima Magazine, a free magazine published monthly reporting on Austin’s community events and featuring local “everyday heroes whose achievements, experiences and personalities contribute to” Austin’s unique character. The magazine includes a calendar of events, community awareness and health issues, money management tips, and my personal favorite, book reviews. A special Kids’ Corner is also offered with book recommendations and highlights. Dulce Bread & Book Shop hopes to partner up with Ujima Magazine to make this particular corner the place where kids will hang out and find their next big cultural read! “Ujima’s goal is to bring the community together and ensure readers are aware of beneficial opportunities and resources.”
Evelina Solis is the Founder and President of Sol2Soul, a life coaching and inspirational speaking company. Evelina also has two radio show programs on Blog Talk Radio that feature interviews with national “Unsung Heroes and Heroines” on the Latinos Unidos Radio Channel, and inspirational talks that help listeners get through each week on her Sol2Soul Radio Show. Her goal is to motivate her listeners to “take a leap of faith and be encouraged to follow their dreams.” The sharing of stories and ideas to inspire faith, hope, and love in the world are the reasons for creating these radio programs. Evelina is busy reaching out to others with her inspirational speaking as her event scheduleis extensive with the addition of a partnership with Macy’s department store to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. She will be traveling to select Macy’s stores in several cities to “honor Latinos and embrace a positive attitude, healthy lifestyle and individuality!” Lastly, Evelina has been featured in newly released book about inspirational and amazing Hispanic and Latina women, Aim High: Extraordinary Stories of Hispanic and Latina Women by Laura Contreras-Rowe. I look forward to crossing paths with Evelina in the future as she is currently working on her own literary contribution to the book world.