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Celebrating National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month: Meet Juntos

In the last week of National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, we are highlighting a few members of Juntos, Nava’s Hispanic/Latinx Employee Resource Group.

In the last week of National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, we are highlighting a few members of Juntos, Nava’s Hispanic/Latinx Employee Resource Group.

Mario Reynoso, He/Him, Operations Associate

A headshot of Mario Reynoso wearing a mask.

Mario Reynoso, Juntos co-lead and Operations Associate.

What is your background?

I’m originally from Northern Virginia from a suburb called Woodbridge. I’m ethnically Mexican and identify as Chicanx.

What makes you feel connected to your community?

Our holidays, our customs, our food, and our dances. There are so many parts of the vibrancy of Mexican culture that makes me feel complete with my community, especially our food. Mexican food is more than tacos and guacamoles, it’s an ancient cuisine with elements that go back thousands of years. Food is passed down from generation to generation; our recipes and plates have been the same since before the Spanish arrived.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate Hispanic/Latinx culture?

Learning about your own culture and celebrating it allows you to feel good about yourself. Although many Latinx folks have roots in this country going back centuries, much of our media is focused on the past 30 years but we ignore the history of communities who have been here since before the United States was even a country. We need to celebrate every aspect of our mosaic of diversity.

Chris Meierling, He/Him, Senior Designer/Researcher

A headshot of Chris Meierling.

Christopher Meierling, Senior Designer/Researcher.

What is your background?

I am the son of my Nicaraguan mother, Alzira, and my German father, Wilhelm. My parents moved from Nicaragua to the DC Metro in the late 70s where they had my brother and me. I grew up speaking Spanish at home with my mom, aunt, and grandmother and have always felt my identity pulled in different directions (Nicaraguan, German, American, first-generation, expat) depending on where I’ve lived and who I’m around.

What makes you feel connected to your community?

Seeing performances of El Güegüense, a satirical folk piece of theater that represents an indigenous point of view in Nicaragua during early Spanish colonization. I’ve seen it performed live by a walking dance troop in the streets of Managua and here in the Bay Area performed by local community organizations.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate Hispanic/Latinx culture?

A childhood friend of mine is Peruvian. Whenever I went over to his home, his mother always had cake and cut fruit on their kitchen table and an expectation of a thorough update on how my family was and school was going. This type of responsibility and hospitality symbolize the openness, caring, and community-oriented values that I am proud of and want to highlight and share with others.

Lauren Bermudez, She/Her, Diversity and Inclusion Technical Recruiter

A photo of Lauren Bermudez holding bouquets of flowers.

Lauren Bermudez, Juntos co-lead and Diversity and Inclusion Technical Recruiter.

What is your background?

I am a proud Chicana/Latina. My grandparents on my maternal and paternal sides are from Zacatecas and Jalisco regions of Mexico. My mother grew up in a small farm town outside of Sacramento and my father was born and raised in East Los Angeles. I am from Southern California, born in LA, and raised in the small town of Temecula, CA.

What makes you feel connected to your community?

I don’t even like cars but whenever I see low-riders on the street with the base turned up, playing a bop, an amazing paint job, either at parades or Latinx festivals I get a huge smile on my face. And I think “Why am I like this?”. I sat with my sister contemplating these little nuances that bring us joy, and we think it helps us feel connected for a couple of reasons. It reminds me of American Chicanx communities and how we have influenced American culture at large. And also reminds me of my Tio Joe and his love for his El Camino.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate Hispanic/Latinx culture?

The communal ties in Latinx peoples and immigrant communities have a strong supportive bond, not only here in the US but wherever the Latinx diaspora can be found. These ties allow not only for upward mobility but also safe spaces when hardships arise. I am blessed to have benefited from these values. My hope is to elevate these communities and showcase their values so they may get the recognition they so deeply deserve.

Vanessa Berruetta, She/ Her, HR coordinator and Tools and Access Analyst

A photo of Vanessa Berruetta standing on a rocky beach.

Vanessa Berruetta, Juntos co-lead and HR coordinator.

What is your background?

I’m a DC native and grew up in the Maryland suburbs; however, my Mom is from Peru and my Dad is from Uruguay. Growing up we’d visit Peru frequently to see my Mom’s family. I went to Uruguay for the first time last year and was able to meet five of my dad’s six siblings, and more cousins than I can count!

What makes you feel connected to your community?

Gatherings with friends and family! My parents would always throw these last-minute impromptu gatherings with lots of music, dancing, and food. Additionally, it has been so great having Juntos, I remember our first meeting feeling instantly at home even though it was my first time getting to know Navanauts.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate Hispanic/Latinx culture?

It’s important to feel connected to your roots. Growing up there wasn’t much diversity in my school and not a lot was taught about Latinx culture. I am still learning a lot about how Hispanic/Latinx communities have been integral to the US, which has made me feel more connected than ever before.

Join us

At Nava, inclusion is one of our core values. The people we work with, and the range of experiences they bring to the table, should be directly reflective of the communities we serve. Join us to help make government services simple, effective, and accessible to all.

PublishedOctober 13, 2020

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