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Growing a Latino Heart Away from Home

As a blonde daughter of a German mother and an Italian father growing up in the Dominican Republic while an amazing experience sometimes made me feel a bit like a fish out of water. I grew up in an English speaking home where Italian, German and even some American traditions were a part of my life. Dominican culture wasn’t a part of my life at home but as I grew up it became very much a part of my life. The sayings that just can’t be translated into English are part of who a I am and the carefreeness that comes from sitting on the malecon drinking a Presidente while listening to bachata is something can’t easily be described. It will always be home.

I left for college when I was 18 and spent another year or two back home in my 20’s but for the most part the U.S has been my home for the past 14 years. I miss it like crazy. Not just my immediate family that is all still there, not just the beach and the beer but the people, the Dominican-ness. It’s hard to describe the warmth, the love, the lust for life, the closeness with which friends become part of your family. It’s something I would love for Annabelle to experience but having married a gringo most of my Dominicanisms that I picked up over the years have been covered in cobwebs.

The truth is that as much as I take Annabelle home for vacation the richness of the culture won’t be a big part of her life. We read books together in Spanish and sing songs and my heart smiles when I wake her up and am greeted with “buenos dias”. But how do you get those little things into the life of a child who isn’t exposed to them in her world? It turns out I’m not the only one asking that question.

Carla Curiel, a fellow Babson grad who now lives in Miami not only asked herself that question but also did something about it. Carla and her husband Roberto wanted to impart the richness of their cultures in their beautiful twin girls. And so Lanugo was born.

Their goal is to help:  “Pass on the richness of our Hispanic culture to your children, a.k.a. Lanuguitos, through our warm, light-hearted and kid-oriented design products that everyone can enjoy”.

The first time I saw the products I was flooded with memories of home, the sayings that were a part of my life that might not have otherwise made it to Annabelle’s ears. The best part is that it’s not just a t-shirt that brings a momentary smile, they’re creating something that can really become a part of your child’s life. There are adorable characters that focus on different parts of Hispanic culture, from religion to food and everything in between and part of their plan is produce videos using these characters.  I’m thrilled that Dora the Explorer is going to get some competition because frankly, as much as Annabelle loves her, I’m not her biggest fan. We also happen to be a family of bookworms and story time at our house happens every day, several times a day, so it’s even better that these lovable characters already have a book series that embodies the latino culture and the first one will be launched before the end of the year. It’ll make a great addition to our ever growing bilingual library.

 We all want the important parts of our life and our culture to become a part of our childrens lives. While I have embraced many American cultures since moving here what feels like a million years ago I’m thrilled that the culture that made up my childhood can be more easily incorporated into my daughters life. That small yet somehow enormous part of me can be a part of Annabelle. So if you’ve been wondering how you can make your Hispanic roots a larger part of your children’s life now you’ve got your answer!

 


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