By: Carla Osorio Veliz, 31 As Generaciones en Acción moves forward with intergenerational work we also need to include the connection with our ancestors to manifest healing, gratitude, and resiliency. Our next seminar will be on Saturday, April 21st from 8:30am-4:00pm. It will be our fifth seminar centering the work on building an intergenerational community. One of the workshops at the seminar focuses on self-care rituals and validating our culture and selves. We realized how we couldn’t focus on validating ourselves if we do not have a clear conversation about the people who came before us, our ancestors. During the workshop participants share about creating altars with pictures of their loved ones to remember them. Altars are a tradition all over the world and have been used during ceremony in indigenous communities. Nowadays, these traditions are being lost due to an era of neo-colonization and cultural appropriation of indigenous traditions. We do mention to respect traditional practices and to listen and learn first from native relatives. “Ancestors are those who have influenced us, assisted us as teachers, as role models, who have crossed over, but who are continuing to be there in our mind” (bluedeer.org). As we unveil what is intergenerational work we ask ourselves: 1. How do we normalize a culture of ancestral knowledge? 2. Why are we disconnected from our ancestors? 3. Would emerging in ancestral knowledge be a solution to intergenerational trauma? Many of us carry intergenerational trauma due to experiencing forced displacement, systemic violence, and unknown historical background about our families. Due to experienced hardships and atrocities in our motherlands many of our family members choose not to share their own stories of survival and resilience or might not even be aware of their own family background. Therefore, new generations grow up with a sense of a lost identity and without knowledge of ancestral connection. It is not to blame migrants since there are political forces at hand that have contributed through social policies to enslave and separate families. Such are conditions at immigrant detention centers, which criminalize and alienate individuals from their loved ones and society. As Leisy Abrego (2014) states, “As free trade agreements expand and nation-states open doors widely for products and profits while closing them tightly for refugees and migrants, these transnational families are not only becoming more common, but they are living through lengthier separations.” We see an emergence in ancestral connection even in Hollywood films like “Coco” sensationalizing day of the dead but making it clear how relevant it is to have a physical, emotional, or spiritual connection with our ancestors. With Generaciones en Acción we do not follow the linear or normalized definition of a “family” since many of us grew up with an extended or communal family and feel better to interact with friends as family. Therefore, we share that an ancestor can be a mentor, a fictional character from a book, or a social leader we admire that might not be in this physical world anymore but takes part in our conversations like Audre Lorde and Berta Caceres are to me. It is people who help you move forward in life by just thinking about them and what they represent. My grandmother Amanda Macal has personal rituals in honoring especially her own grandmother. Since I was little she would share stories about her dear grandmother Carmelina. She always remembers the positive attributes in her and what she learned from her. My grandmother is passing that on to us, to tell stories, to remember our loved ones and affirm who we are. I am sure many grandmothers do that and the beauty of it all is how the new generations listen and appreciate it, even if it’s not said enough, we do appreciate it.
I have been to seminars before but not like the one Generaciones en Acción had and never had I been one to help lead the seminar. When I met Carla, and she offered me an opportunity to help out as an intern, I was excited because it was something I had never tried but was definitely interested in. As I began working with Carla and the other fellow team members, I became very interested and passionate about working with not just one generation but all generations. I saw how important it is to have a program that offers services to all people and how impactful it could be to individuals. Becoming passionate and seeing the influence Generaciones en Acción could have, I began to work hard to make sure that the seminar and my part was the best that it could be. I was both excited and nervous to lead a section of the seminar. I was excited because I wanted to share my thoughts with others and hear what the attendees thought; however, I was also nervous because it was my first time being a speaker at a seminar and one that was going to be held in Spanish. I was afraid that I would not be able to explain my topic and not be able to connect with everyone who attended. All I could think of was, will the older generation be able to understand the message I am trying to get across; however, with the help of the team and through practice I started to become less nervous and more excited about the seminar. On the first day of the seminar, I was excited and anxious about how many people would turn out and how they would respond to the seminar. However, this soon changed as the group that we had were the best, they were the perfect group to have for the first seminar. They were attentive, engaged, excited and overall interested in what we had to say. The energy in the room was great, and this helped me become more relaxed about going up and speaking. When it came to my turn, I was nervous but seeing how attentive people were to what I had to say and me being passionate about my topic eased my nerves. The group really engaged in my topic and I was glad. It was interesting to not only hear what people from my generation thought but also from older generations; it was great because every generation got to learn from each other. Overall, I think the seminar that Generaciones en Acción had was unique and influential because it was a seminar that was opened to all people from all ages where everyone learned not from just their peers but also from other generations. It made an impact not just on those who attended but also to me. It got me to learn to value myself and others and find healthy ways to communicate with my peers and older adults. I’m proud to have been able to participate in this seminar, and I’m excited about the next seminar we have and those who attend.
My experience within the intergenerational seminar has been of great value for me and has allowed me to truly value my culture. We live in a world where everything becomes a routine, and we forget the reason we are here and with it the history of our ancestors. Generaciones en Acción allowed me to realize the needs our Latino community has and the need to take action and educate future generations of our culture. I invite you to join this community and be a part of the change that Generaciones en Accion is creating and designing especially for you and our families. The time is now, come and discover the line that connects the past with our present.
I sincerely want to express from the bottom of my heart, that this seminar, done by Generaciones en Acción, was a truly wonderful experience. It was magical, where feelings and tears were the most beautiful thing in this chapter of my life. Generaciones en Acción achieved in sensitizing not only my sense of humanity even more but also those who attended. I also made new friends, and I thank you for this gift.
Being able to participate in this seminar with my father, Rodolfo Fernandez allowed us to strengthen our relationship even more. Among us, there is already a deep loving relationship between father and daughter. However, the seminar “Generaciones en Accción” gave us the opportunity to recognize each other mutually through those bonds of love that have united us all our lives. In addition, we gained more knowledge about our community and its important aspects such as diversity, tolerance, and respect between generations. For example, in sharing among ourselves, we both agreed that it is fundamental for the coexistence of every family to respect each one of its members. We became convinced that respect should be mutual. Just like we are to be respectful and considerate of our parents and older siblings, we too need to respect the new generation. Generaciones en Acción’s seminar was dynamic, entertaining, and participative, because of its content and its scheme it was understandable for all who attended. I really enjoyed seeing my father that at 89 years of age, he got involved and participated and performed all the activities. It was a wonderful experience. My thanks and admiration for this organization. This is undoubtedly the greatest example that action and doing seminars like these is needed to strengthen families and communities. To love is power and power is to love. Thank you very much Generaciones en Acción!
In my professional life as a journalist I have been fortunate to have gone to many seminars, which have contributed to my growth; nevertheless, the most recent seminar I attended, organized by Generaciones en Acción framed a new beginning in my life. I learned to learn and share with other generations, adults and young people all who have left a great experience in my life and something I have not received before. March 25th and 26th was a great blessing and helped me in continuing to learn. Patricia Veliz Macal and her team were an amazing group. I invite you all to stay tuned for the next seminar, to join the team of winners!
Story telling is powerful as it brings one’s life into existence, and that is why the multi-generational work of Amanda (grandmother), Patricia (mother) and Carla (grand daughter)is so critical as they bring to life the vibrant voices of Latina immigrant women. This powerful trio not only profiles the heartwarming stories of the brave mujeres but also make them part of our collective consciousness. My mother Vilma Palencia, who made her transition in August 2015, is one of the powerful women featured in the now classic book “Los Hilos Que Tejen”. Her immigrant life story, echoing the theme of the book, is weaved and intertwined into the social fabric of this nation and that of her native Guatemala. Her timeless values of perseverance, hard work, tenacity, education and devotion to others will live on for many, many generations to come. Her legacy will be embodied in the lives of her chidren, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on.