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Amobee’s Latinx Community Shares Rich Stories in Celebration of Latinx Heritage Month

by Charlotte Zee, September 30, 2021

Latinx Heritage Month, observed nationally from September 15th – October 15th, honors the vast and significant contributions of the Latinx community, as well as celebrates the cultures, traditions and values from various regions under the Latin American umbrella. 

In an effort to embrace diversity and advocate for inclusion across our organization, Amobee celebrates the unique backgrounds of our employees. Whether it’s learning about and embracing traditions, such as Día de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles) from Colombia, indulging in traditional dishes, such as Arepa “Pelua” or immersing ourselves in our colleagues’ diverse immigration stories and personal experiences, we are proud to share the rich backgrounds of our employees that span the Latin American spectrum at Amobee. Please read on to learn more about our employees’ diverse stories: 

What is your background/heritage?

Carolina Perez, Senior Director, HRBP: My heritage is Mexican, both of my parents are Mexican. My dad is from Mexico, and my mom is from Texas. They made their way to Michigan, where I was born. 

Diana Galindo, Senior Account Manager: Bogotá, Colombia.

Daniel Laprea, Team Lead, Engagement Management: My great-grandparents migrated to Venezuela from Spain and Italy in the early 1900s. My parents migrated to the U.S. for college in the ‘70s, so my Latinx ethnicity comes from Venezuelan traditions. 

Gabriela Aguilera, Account Manager: Venezuelan, Caribbean. Born and raised in Margarita Island off the coast of Venezuela. 

Lidia Ruelas, Product Marketing Manager: I am Mexican-American. I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco but was raised in San Diego, California.

What is your family’s story about coming to the US? How do you stay connected to your heritage?

Carolina Perez: In the 1940’s my father came to the US alone as a teenager. He likes to say that he moved to Michigan, because it looked like Michoacán (where he’s from), on a map. My mother was an orphan by the time she was 4. When her grandmother took her in, she moved across the country with the larger family as they were migrant farmworkers. Their stories keep me connected to my heritage.

Daniel Laprea: My parents received scholarships from the Venezuelan government to pursue their Masters’ and PhDs at an American institution in the ‘70s with the commitment to return home to teach at universities there. They completed their teaching duties and decided to later migrate back to the U.S. in 2001.

Diana Galindo: Like many low-income families, we decided to embrace an opportunity to come to the States to provide a better future for us. Via Facebook and Whatsapp, we stay connected with the family and celebrate holidays together online.

Gabriela Aguilera: I emigrated from Venezuela on my own when I was seventeen years old, and my family is still in Venezuela. I moved to England in 2013 without speaking English. Within one year, I obtained Cambridge University’s highest English certification level. In 2014 I applied to American Universities and was accepted to Florida State University in the Republic of Panama Campus. While studying in Panama, I obtained a scholarship for Hispanic/Latinx students and was transferred to FSU’s main campus in Tallahassee, FL. 

Lidia Ruelas: When I was in second grade, my parents decided to migrate to the U.S. to provide my siblings and I with a better quality of life and opportunities that were unfortunately not available in our hometown. 

What are some of your favorite traditions that you celebrate with your family?

Carolina Perez: My favorite tradition is the way my family celebrated accomplishments, from Quinceañeras, to graduations. Each event was a huge party, with a mariachi band, as well as a live band. 

Daniel Laprea: One of my favorite traditions is cooking a big breakfast on Sundays. We usually make arepas and scrambled eggs. 

Diana Galindo: Día de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles), which we celebrate on December 7th. Families and friends gather to light candles (ordinary candles of all colors) and lanterns all over the city. The lighting of the candles (velitas) symbolizes the wishes we ask for ourselves and our family. It is a moment to reflect, give thanks, and think about our first wishes for the Christmas festivities.

Gabriela Aguilera: Christmas is my absolute favorite time to embrace traditions. Listening to gaitas, cooking hallacas, and baking pan de jamon are among my favorite traditions to celebrate with family. Carnavales are fun too! Throwing water balloons at my neighbors on the streets and having “water balloon wars” are by far among my favorite childhood memories. 

Lidia Ruelas: Christmas Eve (or better known as Noche buena) is big for us. We celebrate the night of the 24th, and typically spend Christmas Day, recuperating from the night before. El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is another popular tradition in Mexican culture. It is typically filled with colorful skulls, music and delicious food as a way to remember and honor family and friends who have passed. 

What food or drink would you offer a guest when they arrive at your house?

Carolina Perez: If you are a guest in my house, around breakfast time you are getting pan de dulce and coffee. 

Daniel Laprea: I would offer them an arepa with chupe, a delicious creamy chicken soup with potatoes, corn, carrots, peas, and mozzarella cheese, garnished with cilantro leaves. It’s my favorite Venezuelan dish.

Diana Galindo: Coffee, Colombiana, galletas, and natural juices. 

Gabriela Aguilera: Arepas! A Venezuelan traditional food. They always either impress our guests – or make them feel at home – and are easy to make. We eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can fill them up with shredded beef, cheese, beans, avocados, etc. They are gluten-free and depending on the filling can also be vegan! So they suit everyone’s diet and are delicious. 

Lidia Ruelas: Pan dulce (sweet bread) and cafecito are must haves!

Favorite influential person from your culture and why?

Carolina Perez: Frida Kahlo, because she is iconic and unapologetically true to herself. Julissa Arce, is an activist, writer, and producer that I follow. Her writing is powerful, and she describes the way we often feel like outsiders as not American enough, and not Mexican enough.    

Daniel Laprea: Ricky Martin has always been my favorite Latinx artist since I was a kid. I looked up to him because I saw a part of myself in him. I read his book titled Me, and it’s one of my favorite autobiographies now. My favorite Ricky Martin song is Vuelve, a Spanish ballad from his 1998 album with the same title. 

Diana Galindo: Fernando Botero, as his art is pretty much in every Colombian city and most restaurants. Also Gabriel García Márquez. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. His books are part of our education within Spanish literature, and were a way to escape the reality of the violence that was happening around us in the ’90s. 

Gabriela Aguilera: Margarita’s former Guaquerí indigenous governor –who is also my grandfather – is my favorite influential person. Eustacio Aguilera, also known as “el Tongo,” managed to study and work by selling food on the streets as a child. A first-generation college graduate, he earned a degree as an electrical engineer. He advocated for empowering Venezuelans’ indigenous roots by naming businesses, campaigns, locations, etc. after our Guaquerí indigenous tribe.  

Lidia Ruelas: Selena Quintanilla. Not only did Selena bring people from different races, ages and cultures together, but she ultimately put the Latinx community on the American billboard top ten. Additionally, as a woman in a male-dominated industry, Selena broke barriers and made history as the first Tejano artist to be recognized by the music industry. 

What values were you taught from your culture or family that you’d want to pass down to future generations?

Carolina Perez: My family has taught me a strong work ethic. My mom typically worked two jobs while I was growing up, and my dad worked 12-hour days. They also showed me how to have fun; I don’t think either of my parents ever came home and talked about work. The weekends were for road trips to Mackinac Island, adventures at Cedar Point, or a chance to go to a Mexican dance.  

Daniel Laprea: I would like to pass down the value of hard work. Although my parents could sometimes be labeled as workaholics, I have discovered a happy medium in my life where I can have a strong work ethic, but also honor my boundaries and work/life balance. 

Diana Galindo: Humbleness, being proud of being immigrants and where we come from, and that having an accent implies that the person is smart enough to know two languages and brave enough to do their job in the second.

Gabriela Aguilera: I grew up in a family that honored effort through discipline, resilience, and passion. As a former competitive tennis player, I learned you will not win all of the time, or even at all for a long time, but as long as you have passion and work through it eventually you will win, even if it is from the experience alone.

Lidia Ruelas: Family is everything. I talk to my parents and sisters nearly every day; we are all very close and rely on each other for unconditional love, support and guidance. I hope to engrain these same family values with my own children one day.

Individuals of multicultural backgrounds bring a lot to the table, but also often face challenges with identity. What challenges have you faced as a multicultural person and what have you learned?

Carolina Perez: The challenges I had with identity were early on. Since I didn’t grow up around a lot of people that looked like me, I did things like shortened my name to try to fit in. Thankfully I grew out of that as a teenager, when I started to understand it was okay to talk about my culture; it was even cool to be proud of it.

Today’s challenge is the reality that Latinas are the lowest paid in the US workforce. It is discouraging, and at the same time, at least we’re talking about it. My wish is that the next generation of Latinas could be confident about their pay.   

Daniel Laprea: My intersectionality is complex – I am a white, Latinx, multilingual, gay man. For this reason, I always have a hard time answering the question, “where are you from?” Racially I’m 85% Southern European with African, Native American and Southeast influence, too. Culturally, I’m American and Latinx. I feel like the sum of my experiences make me who I am. I lived in Venezuela for the first 10 years of my life, in Texas for 13 years, and as an adult in Chicago and San Diego. At the end of the day, I’m human. Race is a social construct anyway, but that’s a longer conversation.

Diana Galindo: Not being able to identify as an authentic Colombian. Coming at a young age, you feel like you are a part of both worlds, and you identify with certain aspects of both countries. For example, it’s hard for me to talk to someone about my job in Spanish versus speaking Spanish with someone about my personal life. 

Gabriela Aguilera: Being the first immigrant of a family has many challenges, especially when immigrating as an individual. Starting with having to create your path, with little or no guidance, as well as trusting your instincts at all moments and learning who to trust.

It does feel sometimes like being in a “limbo” where you are not American enough but also not Venezuelan enough. Over time, I have created my own identity as a citizen of the world by adopting the best traits of all the cultures I have had the honor to experience firsthand. 

Lidia Ruelas: Coming to the U.S. at such a young age, I was raised indulging American pop culture, music and traditions. Going back to Mexico during summer time, I would often find myself speaking and even dressing differently than other kids. This caused a lot of insecurity growing up because although my Spanish was far from perfect, English was still my second language. For a while, I was stuck trying to figure out who I was and where I belonged. Over the years, I’ve learned that you can’t please everyone and people will always have an opinion, so might as well do what makes you happy.

How has your multicultural background influenced you as a professional? 

Carolina Perez: Professionally, my multicultural background has influenced me to see the big picture in projects and in strategy. As an HR professional, I look at resumes differently; I understand that there are transferable skills. Even though I value education, I don’t put high value on school names, and I know that experience matters. I am an advocate for internal promotions, and a cheerleader for continued learning either with our learning and development team or by getting your professions certifications. 

Daniel Laprea: It has opened up more opportunities to work in unique projects and be the multicultural SME in several situations. 

Diana Galindo: It’s my niche. I was able to be part of multiple projects at a young age, thanks to being bilingual. At mitu, I helped manage the LATAM businesses and manage multicultural projects, and I understood the sentiment of each creative brief. 

Gabriela Aguilera: I believe in a combination of the above, including incredible problem-solving abilities, adaptability, communication, and teamwork. Resilience and passion play a big role in who I am as a professional today. 

Lidia Ruelas: Having a multicultural background has allowed me to understand there are many ways of dealing and approaching situations. As a professional, I take everyone’s background into consideration and try to incorporate different perspectives in order to have a well-rounded view. 

To join our growing team, check out our open roles here.

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