Anytime there is an opportunity to gather around books and good conversation, I experience a special kind of joy. As you can imagine, having the chance to speak to fellow Latino authors celebrating culture, bilingual literature, and feeling a sense of community was the highlight of this past weekend. The First Annual Cervantino Bilingual Book Fair gathered more than twenty writers, storytellers, and poets in an amazing event that I was honored to be a part of.
The day started with a lot of excitement as I was getting ready to go to the Cameron Village Regional Library, where among a wide variety of bilingual and Spanish-language titles, my own children’s book, ‘La Familia Cool: El tesoro más valioso/The most valuable treasure’, was going to be exhibit. This event was the first one of its kind for me here in North Carolina and what better than getting together with Latino authors celebrating culture, telling our own stories and contributing to Latino Literature in its different forms.
The morning of Saturday, October 28, 2017, was bright and the library looked particularly beautiful as in its center hallway the books of Latinos were shown proudly while in the conference room the day started with vibrant conversations about storytelling, the meaning behind the books exposed and the mission each one of us, as authors, have made our own.
During my conversation with creator Rafael A. Osuba, we discussed the state of Latino students in the k12 school system, the importance for children to have books in which they see themselves and their stories portrait and why I’m dedicated to my mission of highlighting the contributions of American Latinos. With an audience full of Latino authors celebrating culture and literature, I couldn’t help but to be inspired by their participation and reinforce my commitment to support and uplift a community that has so much to give.
Then it was my turn to listen to the other authors share their stories and the passion that drives their creativity. It occurred to me that if any American Latino child was able to look around and see novelists, writers, poets, doctors, activists and other Latino professionals that are giving their best to their communities, their very own dreams will be validated. I was energized by that thought.
Growing up, even in the humble neighborhood of my youth, lacking many times basic needs, aspiring to be a professional wasn’t something far-fetched. It was just the natural course of your educational life. During my high school years, people never asked *if* I was going to college, but what career I will choose. Although not everyone was educated around us, even the poorest kids knew and saw people like them achieving the things they dreamed of.
This event is an important effort to bring American Latino kids access to those role models. It is not simply about us, Latino authors celebrating culture and being role models ourselves, it is about the stories we capture and the endless possibilities we offer children to see characters that look like them and open the door to imagine and be whatever they want to be.
The First Annual Cervantino Bilingual Book Fair was an intimate event that had an important impact in our community. I’m grateful to Rafael Osuba for his commitment to the arts and for putting in the work that entails creating a well-organized and quality event. It takes a village to build a sense of community around the arts, and by gathering a group of Latino authors celebrating culture, showcasing their work and discussing very important topics it’s definitely a great start!
About The Cervantino Book Fair
Under the leadership of Rafael A. Osuba, a Puerto Rican artist, and art advocate, the First Annual Cervantino Bilingual Book Fair fulfilled its mission of celebrating the 400th year of the publication of “El Quixote” by author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and showcasing the work of experienced and emerging voices of Latino narrative and poetry.
Rafael A. Osuba is a believer that “Art is all around us; it is up to us to see its beauty”. Art is the vehicle Osuba uses to stay connected to his culture. “Every drawing, painting, sculpture, song, dance, food, literary work has a story behind it. Capturing a feeling, a memory or expression and sharing it with the world is where the magic lies.” Osuba has used his creativity to advocate and broaden the arts in North Carolina. Over the last 24 years, he has pioneered many projects that have helped to further the Latino Art movement. He is the founder and artistic director of the El Quixote Festival, a seven-month-long annual art festival produced by Artist Studio Project. He identifies his three children as his greatest works of art!
How many books by Latino authors you own? Please support minority writers and give your kids the gift of imagining a future for themselves that has no limits.