Where to get Peruvian from during Covid era… and for Fiestas Patrias?July 25, 2020
An outdoor dining gem by the riverAugust 12, 2020
When I first created this blog my main focus was to narrate my experiences in NYC as a Peruana immigrant. Along this journey, I found myself interacting with others like me, Peruanas, who would reach out through instagram or facebook to ask me how they can become more acquainted with the city. Those times I told myself, “oh I wish I could put together a community, where we can empower each other while we navigate through this “adjusting to NYC” phase.
I started to become more active in social media, and connected with more Peruanas in the East Coast, but still my fear of failure didn’t allow me to go for what I’ve been wanting to do since this blog started, which was to build a community. And then the universe showed up, in 2016 I met Cindy Rodriguez, a journalist, storyteller, podcaster. I remember reaching out to her on facebook and we met up at one of my favorite city rooftops. We chatted away and we talked about how it would be cool to create a Peruana group, because she told me she knew other Peruanas working in the media. I was ecstatic! Cindy and I kept having talks about it for quite some time. We actually spent a Fiestas Patrias at Baby Brasa in 2018 and our calling kept showing up. We kept saying we were going to create that Peruana gathering.
Finally, in 2019 we met up again at a Peruvian Culinary Event I hosted along with my sister and mother, where we launched our food business: Qoyas NYC. I invited other Peruanas as well that I had connected with on instagram and CIndy happened to know them as well. During the event I told Cindy, we gotta make that Peruana meeting happen and she said: Yes! We communicated back and forth and we decided to launch our initiative to bring Peruanas together for Fiestas Patrias.
That’s how we rolled out our invite on instagram for what was going to be an intimate dinner at Pio Pio. We honestly estimated no more than 10 Peruanas to show up. We started to reach out to Peruanas who we knew personally and online. As days passed by, my inbox started to get notifications from Peruanas interested in joining. I was surprised. Two days before the event we had a list with over 30 Peruanas!
This is how on July 30th 2019, we hosted our first event at Pio Pio. Sitting by the entrance and seeing all these wonderful women arrive and realizing how excited they were to meet other Peruanas brought me so much joy. We took over the restaurant, Pisco Caravedo showed up (Shout out to Jan) and we did a raffle of two bottles of Pisco. Everyone had a great time, we ate, we talked, we laughed, we mingled and most importantly, we connected.
Next day Cindy and I had a recap event talk and we came to the realization that many Peruanas were eager to meet other minded-like Peruanas, whether they migrated to NYC/NJ recently or years ago, whether they were born in the US from both Peruvian parents or only one, none of that matter, we came together through our Peruvian roots.
During this first year, we hosted four in person meetups, the first one at Pio PIo; the second one an intimate gathering with a Peruvian buffet hosted by my sister, Chef Magaly. That day we introduced each other, we talked about what we were expecting to get from this community, many wanted new friends, others wanted to network, others just wanted to share their Peruvian pride with other Peruanas because they didn’t have a group of Peruana friends.
At all moments, I saw that we were filling a gap that our Peruana community was in need of. We opened up our private Facebook group, so we all can be together in a space where we can share Peruvian related content, promote our projects, seek for help or advice, and be part of private events that our community hosts. This brought Cindy and I together on a brainstorm session, this time to put a name to our community. Peruana Meet Up didn’t resonate with us no more, we wanted to be more than just one of those “meet-ups”. This is how we came out with The Peruana Collective and our motto became: Unite, Empower and Collaborate.
Then our third event came around and it was around Thanksgiving. We thought we should do an event where Peruanas can be thankful for everything we had and for having the opportunity to get together as a community. I hosted it at my place and everyone brought their favorite Peruvian dish or refreshment. It was so beautiful to see my home filled with Peruana love and pride. Morena Escardo led a gratitude meditation session, which was incredible, and then we were off to eat and dance away to the rhythm of festejo and saya.
2020 came around, Cindy and I had so many plans for our community, and we rolled out our first Peruana brunch of the year at Mission Ceviche. We had new Peruana faces joining and we had a blast, food and drinks were amazing. We were ready for what was coming next, from a Peruana food tour, to a gathering for Fiestas Patrias. But 2020 had other plans for us, Covid-19 hit and we couldn’t host anything in person.
At first, we both were trying to figure out how we were going to navigate through the pandemic, as a community and individually. We knew it was important to keep the community empowered and we decided to bring online events that allowed us to vent, unwind and learn. Luckily and thankfully, we had the support from members, who wanted to bring something to our community. The goal was for Peruanas to find a space online where they could connect with others and with themselves.
And this is how we hosted over five events: Meditation led by Morena Escardo, Cooking Class with Chef Magaly, Circulo de Mujeres with Clau Romero, Diversity and Inclusion with Joanni Balbi-Diaz, Movie Night with Silvia Quispe, Community Charlas and more! During this online switch, our community kept growing, what started as a 30 member community today is a 150 and counting!
A couple of days ago we hosted our first offline event, our Very Peruana Picnic in commemoration of Fiestas Patrias and our anniversary. It was wonderful to see familiar and new faces, and to just catch up while having our bandera up in the middle of Central Park.
I look back on how this all started and to all this year of The Peruana Collective and honestly, I can only feel THANKFUL. Thankful to the universe that put Cindy in my path, who is a person I can trust, I can work in such an easy manner and I can learn so much from. Cindy has not only become a friend, a person who I can talk about brujita stuff, travel, Peruvian food, and social justice. I will forever be grateful that she connected me with initiatives that help undocumented immigrants.
I’m thankful that we created this community together, and that through this initiative we both have met amazing Peruanas. I’m thankful that this space has allowed Peruanas to link up, become friends, help each other when needed, collaborate with each other, but most importantly come together as a collective to feel proud of where they come from, of their roots, of their heritage, of our beloved PERU!
Ps: If you are a Peruana in the NYC/NJ/Westchester area, JOIN OUR COMMUNITY!