Being Americanized is one of the most cool things you could be while living in a South American country, well I’m not going to generalized, but it’s one of the coolest things to be while you live in my country. I have to admit now being so far away from Peru, I feel such a shame for all those years that I didn’t embrace my culture, my heritage and all the things I should have been proud of while living there.
I remember those times I would rather to spend money on buying American products such as clothing or shoes. I would make my parents spend double amount of money for a Diesel or CK pair of jeans just because they were brands from USA; buying clothes from a local brand was a NO-NO, it was a social life suicide! The girl that went to a school party wearing Tayssir Jeans was a “chola”. The bands and singers I grew up listening to were from all the countries in the world, except Peru. Back Street Boys, Britnery Spears, Spice Girls, even Servando y Florentino (Venezuelan young singers that ended up appearing in a talk show trash talking about Peruvian girls), they all were outsiders and we would spend crazy amount of money and invest so much time just to see them perform for a couple of hours. Even the trips I made as a kid, were not to other cities in Peru, my sister and I would do good in school just to be taken to Disney World or New York.
I have to admit that my country’s society, and If I’m not wrong most of Hispanic countries, discriminates and neglects its own people. Everything is based in the socio-economic hierarchy and you are treated based on which socio-economic class you belong to. Lima, the capital, is a mere example of how our society is marked by this differentiation; it seems that most of us have forgotten that we are all a mixed of bloods, races and backgrounds and just because one is lighter than the other or because your last name is from an Italian or German descendant line doesn’t make you better than the person whose last name comes from a Andean descendent line. Like my grandmother would say “El que no tiene de indio, tiene de mandingo”, definitely not every Peruvian will accept this neither embrace it.
In this four years I have learned how beautiful and amazing is my country, and all the wonderful things it has that make me incredibly proud when I say “I’m Peruvian”. Its cultural background is so rich and alive that resonates everywhere in the world. Its food is delicious and more than one who have the luck of trying it can agree with me. Its music, from huayno to afro-Peruvian, is amusing and fun. Its multiple tourist destinations are breathtaking and unique. Its people “cholo, negro, indio y serrano” are kind and welcoming.
Why it took me so long to realized all this? I ask myself. I believe that one of the things that made me think about all this was to see the pride that most of my friends had for their countries, the passion they have for their cultures. Most of my Dominican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Ecuadorian, Colombian, Chinese, Italian friends feel the responsibility of represent their country in this beautiful city. They try to do big things and dedicate each of their accomplishments to the place they were born, even if they weren’t born there, they would feel honored of representing the place their parents, grandparents, even great grandparents were born. Another thing was through my job. I work in the tourism industry and I travel a lot promoting all the tourist destinations of Peru. Through these trips I’ve learned the interest so many people across the globe has for my country. It’s amazing to see how many people are willing to travel so far away just to know more about it, they don’t care about the distance or the cost, they want to discover it.
Honestly, if I could go back in time I would do things differently. I would dance huayno with no shame, just like I do now. I would do the Inca Trail instead of going to Magic Kingdom or Universal Studios. I would be proud of being born in the capital but at the same time of my Andean background. I would have told my grandmother to teach me how to speak Quechua.
Now 3648 miles (5871 Kilometers) away from my homeland I realized how wrong I’ve been all this time. I have to make a mea culpa and confess that more than once I didn’t recognized the privilege I had for being born in the country I was so lucky to be born. There’s a saying that goes “nobody knows what they have until they lose it” well that’s how I feel right now, and probably some of you are in the same boat as me and are nodding their heads while reading this.
I could go on trying to say all the things I would have done but I didn’t, however there’s another saying that goes “Never is too late”. So if you didn’t embrace your heritage, it’s time for you to do it. Today I feel proud of being Latina but furthermore, for being Peruvian! I auto denominated myself an ambassador of my country in New York, and I finally found my voice and many opportunities in the city that never sleeps to promote my country, my heritage as much as I can. Why? Because today, I can truly say I’m Peruvian and proud!
All this might sound cliché to some of you (and if it doesn’t, thanks for the support) but I want to use this blog as a platform where I put my mission in action, so just seat back, tune in and watch me ! 😉