Hospitality Management Student Celebrates Heritage and Community
- Author: M. Carver
- Author: Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020
Ana Sofia Diaz was 15 years old when she and her family moved to the United States from Guatemala, leaving behind her friends, school, church and community for a new life in an entirely new place. The language barrier wasn’t the only challenge that Diaz faced when she settled in to her new home. As the eldest of four children, she herself struggled adapting to the new culture. “I miss the sense of community the most. Everyone that I’ve met [in the U.S] has been kind, but there is nothing like the Latin American culture; they always make you feel like you are part of their family, even if you’re only a friend. You always feel at home wherever you go,” said Diaz.
Transitioning from a school that housed K-12 students, to a city with multiple schools was a tough transition, Diaz felt lonely and missed her siblings after a long school day apart. “Back in Guatemala we were in the same area and we got to see each other all the time, but here we were in different grades and in different buildings,” said Diaz. “My mother was our support system, she helped with homework as well as helping us to understand the language and culture.”
After high school, Diaz wanted to stick close to her home base so WKU was a natural choice. “WKU was the first university that reached out to me and offered me a scholarship. Being in a family of 7, with 4 children comes with a lot of expenses, so having the chance for higher education was a big investment for my family,” said Diaz. She is currently a senior in the Hospitality Management and Dietetics program in the College of Health and Human Services at WKU.
Celebrating her Latinx heritage extends far beyond a culture recognition month, “I’m proud of where I come from and where I am going. I get to look back at my heritage and see the amazing support system that I have, I get to be proud of the dedication and the hard work that the Latinx community demonstrates wherever I go. [My heritage] allows me to be motivated and show that everyone is capable of accomplishing great things,” says Diaz.
Looking ahead, Diaz wants to see more opportunities for the Latinx community to share their culture without them feeling like it’s a ‘one-time event.’ “I’m proud of being a Latina and sharing my story and culture. I would like to see more opportunities of involvement and leadership to Latin American students to share about their lives, their culture, and their experiences both in their home country and in the U.S.