Today’s blog was written by Laura Barbas-Rhoden, Ph.D, founding facilitator of Alianza Hispana of Spartanburg and Araceli Hernández-Laroche, Ph.D, current facilitator
We invite you to imagine two moments. The first is hard, because we’d like you to recall a moment when you felt out of place. And the second is pleasurable, because we ask you to imagine a time you felt welcomed. Hold those moments in your mind.
We are leaders with Hispanic Alliance Spartanburg, a social impact network whose purpose is to facilitate, encourage, and promote the inclusion of members of the Hispanic/Latinx community in improving quality of life in Spartanburg County.
The Latinx community in Spartanburg is relatively new, dating to the 1990s. As relative newcomers, Latinx residents have not always been connected to those who’ve called Spartanburg home for years. Hispanic Alliance was created to provide an opportunity for individuals (and the networks and communities to which they belong) to connect, and by so doing, to make more visible the talents and shared aspirations of those from all backgrounds and life experiences. Communities are made stronger when more people are socially connected, in relationships forged through work and fun together, and in diverse communities like ours, it is important those relationships form across lines of difference.
One of our most profound privileges is to listen to community members, including those with whom we speak in Spanish. Listening to their stories, their dreams and even fears, moves and motivates us. Cultural and social isolation colors some of their experiences. We take their voices as our challenge: how can Hispanic Alliance create a wider network, so that neighbors who are mothers, fathers, mentors, youth, can come together with others to create a more inclusive, equitable Spartanburg?
Hispanic Alliance collaborators have celebrated many accomplishments: the launch of PASOs; advocacy related to DACA youth; collaborations with churches, schools, civic and business leaders; participation on boards and advisory groups. We are most proud, however, of the relationships and dialogue that have made those accomplishments possible. Together we foster a place where social isolation occurs less often, and where thriving happens more.
We invite you, too, into those relationships. If you want to connect, our monthly gatherings are a place you can start. If you’d like to meet your neighbors from various mother tongues and cultures, we welcome you. Together, we are the community we build, and it’s where we all belong.
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