The following is a repost from Rutgers University’s Facebook
For #HispanicHeritageMonth, we’ve asked students to write an open letter detailing their heritage, their loved ones they share it with, and the lands they come from. Take the time to learn these stories as we share them over the next few weeks.
Meet Bryan Balarezo, a Rutgers University, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy student majoring in Public Health.
First, I want to thank you for being born in the best country in the world. Thank you for giving me the special part of who I am. You will be delighted to know that your future grandson had the opportunity to be a student at Rutgers University and has never forgotten his roots. As you can imagine, growing up in a “melting pot” country came with challenges in discovering who I am. In my early life, I did not know much of my Peruvian roots since English was the only language spoken and there were few Peruvian students. Of course, I met several other Latiné students, but there was no one I could relate to on a deeper level to learn more about my culture. At home, we often speak Spanish. My mother makes some of the best Peruvian dishes, like Lomo Saltado and Papa la Huancaina. Paterson has an extraordinarily strong Peruvian community with a whole street dedicated to Peruvian culture known as Peru Square. Here, you can find many Peruvian restaurants, people and heritage. The best part is every year a Peruvian parade is held celebrating our roots. Yet, what I think you will be most ecstatic to know is that I can perform La Marinera Norteña, a traditional Peruvian couple’s dance that uses white handkerchiefs as props to make your partner fall in love with you. We have stuck together and never forgot our traditions, even for the holidays. Becoming the president of the newly initiated Peruvian-American Student Association, where I instruct my fellow students about our culture, reminds me of how much I love my country, my roots, the food and dances of the country and how I love and thank you guys for being a part of who I am. I love who I am!”