The biggest minority in the USA is the Latino community. When I was living in Texas every other person that I saw was what I would consider a brother or sister, a person of Latino or Hispanic descent. It was so easy to bond and make friends. This invisible automatic bond that we shared in common is our culture and our dynamic, free spirited personalities. The way that we put our family first over anything or anyone. Our curiosity for different people, culture and music. The passion for life, relaxed nature and sense of humor. How we don’t really like personal space and enjoy hugs, kisses and lots of affection. We all share these cultural similarities even though our families may not be from the same country. We know that in a crowded space when a Latino spots another Latino and makes conversation, it’s like an immediate friendship is created. I think this is why some people don’t understand why Latinos like to hang out together; they don’t understand this invisible bond that brings us together.
When I was in Texas, even though I moved a couple of times from city to city, I knew that I was never alone. That I was soon going to meet an interesting Latina and we will become friends forever. But what happens when you are in a place where Latinos are not the biggest minority?
Before I moved to Berlin, Germany, my friends warned me about the different lifestyle and cultural regime Germans have. They said, they were cold people; all they do is work and really don’t know how to enjoy life. I decided not to listen to them. I moved with an open mind because as a Latina I know that stereotypes are not appreciated and are often overstated.
Germany in my experience was the total opposite to my Latin culture. Family is not the number one priority but instead it is work. Laughter and passion for life is not something that easily shines in them. They are more serious and enjoy personal space. As a Latina, I was often referred to by Germans as the sunshine in a gray day. They enjoyed my laughter, the crazy colors in my outfits and that I was full of life. This was great for them, but for me it was very difficult to make friends. My affectionate and loud nature did not fit in with their personality. I could not find this invisible bond that us Latinos share.
As I got to meet more people from different countries, I started finding bits and pieces of Latino culture in different people. I found our loud, affectionate nature in Italians. Believe it or not, we are very similar; hand gestures, speakerphone voices, family traditions and passion for life, are cultural similarities we have in common. I also found the kindness and humble nature we have in Romanian people. Our lifestyle of giving rather than receiving, I also found in them. Our mother tongue and passion for music, I found in Spaniards. Our strict family customs and sensitive and loving mothers, I found in Pilipino people. Discovering these small traits in different cultures helped me feel more at home. Then I came to understand that the reason I found Latino characteristics in these people that were so far away from Latin countries, is that we shared religion in common. Most of the population in the countries I mentioned is Roman Catholic. It is very interesting to find the linkage between our culture, Europeans and Asian is nonetheless but religion.
For me the meaning of being a Latina has changed. It is no longer where I came from but the fire and passion that shines in me. Latinos are passionate individuals and they are the sunlight in a gray day. If you always keep this in mind, you will gain strength and self-confidence to do anything. Make friends with anyone and be whoever you want to be. Without Latinos, everyday will be a very sad gray day.