On a recent Wednesday afternoon staff from Berks Teens Matters (BTM) and Co-County Wellness Services, got together with some of our BTM Youth Ambassadors to bid a fond farewell to YA Coordinator, Alex Banks. We decorated the spaces, made sure to have some of Alex’s favorite foods, and gathered around the table to share our appreciation for Alex.
In a way, it was a lot like a special family gathering so it is not surprising that the conversation turned to holidays, traditions, and some of our favorite things about them. As it turned out, all of the YAs and half of the staff that gathered that day were Latinx. It was delightful to listen to their voices rise with excitement as they shared in an intergenerational conversation about their favorite holiday traditions.
Whether they celebrate their holidays here in Berks County, the place of their ancestors, or both, one thing was very clear: favorite foods topped the list, followed by gatherings of friends and family that often include music (and food of course). From their descriptions of roasting pork, rice with pigeon peas, pasteles, empanadillas and specially prepared dishes of plantains or yucca our imaginary plates were filled to overflowing. Their stories of Noche Buena, Parrandas, and Three Kings Day took us through the steep and winding curves of Puerto Rico’s countryside and the bumpy streets of Berks County.
In the end we were all reminded, though age and ancestry may sometimes divide us, sharing our stories and honoring our traditions binds us together across oceans, land boundaries and time. And together, we are one community.
By Nadine J. Smet-Weiss