Last Friday, members of the Class of 2016 had the opportunity to meet the Latina women of the Burlington community for an afternoon of Mexican cuisine, storytelling, and laying the groundwork for profound, cross-cultural relationships. As anticipation builds for the 2016’s to implement their plans to sustain the legacy project of the Class of 2013, Hogares Sanos, this lunch served as the springboard for a world of opportunities and the foundation of what we hope will become a strong, lasting connection. Keeping in mind the fundamental roles of collaboration, trust, and continuity in this pursuit to sustain—and even evolve—the Hogares Sanos program, our Class will be able to move forward from this experience, taking what we have learned to nourish the relationship that has been created between the Periclean Scholars and the Burlington community.
When we arrived at Mex-Am, we were able to meet Dr. Nienhaus, the mentor for the Class of 2013, along with his wife, Blanca. Professor Post also joined us at the restaurant, in addition to a representative from Wake Forest who is in the midst of carrying out research regarding immigration and public health. With such a diversity of attendees at the lunch, it was gratifying to know that there were members of the outside community who showed an express interest in both the Periclean Scholars program and the focal groups to which this program has extended its efforts.
Having met some of the guests at our lunch, we sat ourselves among the women and their children. The room was alive with conversation as we met the women’s families, exchanged personal histories, and shared our love for food. All of the women we met were from Mexico; nevertheless, each of their stories, experiences, and perspectives showed a clear richness and diversity that is intrinsic to this small community with which we intend to work over the coming years. By the end of the lunch, simply talking to the women and having the chance to meet their families hugely amplified our eagerness to take on this project and get to know them better through Hogares Sanos. Especially after hearing the women’s input on authentic Mexican cooking, we look forward to hopefully getting the chance to try some of their favorite recipes!
As one of the first of many cross-cultural connections we will make as Pericleans, this first meeting with the women of Hogares Sanos exemplified the integral part that personal interaction and cultural awareness fulfills in the process of civic engagement. Despite any cultural or language barriers that may have existed between the students and the women at the beginning of the meeting, it was clear that through forging positive, holistic, and authentic connections, we began to transcend these barriers. As we move forward in this project with new perspectives and a stronger sense of enthusiasm, the 2016’s must keep in mind not only the goals and mission of our predecessors, but also the role that we have in moving this program towards new horizons for future sustainability. What an honor it is to be able to have the chance to fill this role and stand on the shoulders of the members of the Class of 2013!
Also, a special thanks to Dr. Nienhaus, Blanca, Professor Post, our special representative from Wake Forest and all of the women for joining us and sharing your wisdom! ¡Mil gracias!