In 2018-2019 there are so many memories to reflect on. While there are many stories to tell, the one theme that comes to my heart this season is that of celebrating the deep relationships that our community has built over the past several years. I am reminded of how so many gathered together over a process of a year to visit and question ways that our community could become closer. One ALAS friend and past City Councilmember, Rick Kwoalcyzk always shared the phrase of "we are one community", This year has been a powerful demonstration of our community coming together as one. We have stood side by side through struggles of ICE fears, have listened to those that have made difficult journeys- leaving families behind to find their way to our community. We have seen neighbors, friends and leaders open their doors to welcome one another in ways represented by offering warm meals, listening with care, advocating, witnessing and accompanying in many ways. Our children have seen smiles of those who once were strangers, now amigos. We have lost loved ones in our community this year that have been mentors, friends and allies and at the same time we have sighed knowing the love that still is felt. Today as I reflect on what I am grateful for this year- ALAS is so blessed to be part of seeing us all come together to grow as one familia While there is still work to be done, it is important to celebrate the steps we have taken in 2018.
The opportunity for our youth of Mariachi Media Luna to perform with Grammy Award winning Los Tigres del Norte was a dream come true.
For many in Mexico and the United States, Los Tigres del Norte are known as the voice of the people. Their music represents stories of struggle, strength, journeys of the border and their songs represent the hard work so many contribute living in the United States. Jorge Hernandez and his brothers of Los Tigres came to the United States when they were teenagers to help support their family. Forty years later, their music has inspired a movement of advocacy, orgullo and cultural pride. When I was writing my dissertation, I kept referring to the songs and lyrics written by Los Tigres. Their words represent stories and experiences of so many whose journeys are often never told.
When our youth of Mariachi Media Luna found out they would be opening for these cultural heroes, there was an excitement that pushed our youth forward. They committed to adding extra practices and were motivated to bring their best to the stage. Belinda Vargas, one of our students shared that she grew up watching Los Tigres in Mexico. "Yo recuerdo escuchando sus canciones desde que estaba chiquita" One of our parents beamed with pride remembering the black and white tv performances he watched as a young boy in growing up in Mexico. Years later he was having the opportunity to see his daughter open up for Los Tigres del Norte, heroes to many in the community. Our youth did an amazing job as they opened the show. They sang with a confidence and pride to represent all of Mariachi Media Luna, our families and community. Jorge Hernandez and his brothers gathered around the youth at the end of night- highlighting one of the most important moments to inspire our Mariachi youth. Thank you Los Tigres del Norte for this amazing opportunity. A special thanks to Dwayne Uloa of AKA productions and Raul Rodriguez of Univsion. A thank you to Connie and Jorge Jr. who we enjoyed sharing the evening with. We couldn't do this without our teachers, Omar Naranjo, Rigo Campos, Rodolfo Torres, Jesus Hernandez, Jorge Rodriguez and Veronica Rodriguez. Mariachi Media Luna is so proud of this special moment we will never forget!
This year ALAS has been working closely with community partners to build new bridges of relationships and Tocayo's with one another. In Spanish when you have the same name you use the word Tocayo, meaning you are my other. Dr. Cristobal Salinas uses Tocayo to represent a soulful connection with one another- that we are all connected when we reach out and witness the humanity in each of us, regardless of barriers that often get in the way. As the year began Half Moon Bay groups opened doors to begin building bridges within our own community to strengthen communication, advocacy and friendship. Immigration Action Group rallied to make themselves visible with a mission to let our Latino community know they are present and in solidarity with each of us. The Methodist Church One Love Campaign spent eight weeks building opportunities to gather together to share stories, to witness each other's journey and to grow in learning about one another. The Latino Advisory is preparing our second Community Posada where we will all come together to walk and ask for doors to be open for our DACA youth, for our immigrant families and for all of those who at time are invisible. ALAS leaders have been part of planting seeds of love in our community- growing new ways to increase communication and build stronger safety nets of care for our Latino community and all of us that live together under the same moon. We are grateful for all those that have stood up to say we are here for you. These are the moments and actions that heal fear and grow one love as we become Tocayos to one another.
Living in beautiful Half Moon Bay reminds us of the power of nature. When we look up to see the light of the full moon cover our community, we recognize that we are all live under the same moon. Recently one of our students shared a special story with me during a time she was talking about her future and how hard she is working to make sure she gets good grades to reach her dream of going to college. In her story, she shared this special memory..."When my mom was little and lived in Mexico, she really wanted to learn and study. But of course it was hard, they lived a hard life and in the evenings they didn't have electricity in their home, so she would go outside to read her book by the light of the moon" She shared that this story keeps her going in school, even when its challenging.
Belinda is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in California and Founder of A.L.A.S. She also is Faculty at the University of San Francisco, where she teaches in the Counseling Department. She has a doctorate in International and Multicultural Education. Her research is focused on the psychological trauma experienced by many in the immigration system as well as understanding healing spaces in the Latino community.