Patty Aragon Memorial Scholarship

Patty Aragon Memorial Scholarship 2018

Kimberly Armendariz was the 2018 recipient of the Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic $500 scholarship. PAGCC’s mission is to build community in the Pagosa Springs and the southwest while celebrating our cultural heritage through local cuisine and music. “Everyone has a different way to live their life, but our traditions and our ancestors helped shape us into who we are, they helped to create us; their teachings, the life lessons I’ve learned brought me where I want to be. Now it’s up to me to help shape my little cousin’s, and my brother’s,” wrote Kimberly in her essay reminding us that our heritage is a huge part of our future.


By Kimberly Armendariz

Being raised in a Mexican-hispanic home, our culture means a lot to us. Most hispanic people are Catholic. As I was young I didn’t really see the importance of being very religious, and celebrating “Dia De Los Reyes,” “ La Rosca” and other celebrations. I only thought about Christmas. As I continued to get older, my parents wanted me to get closer to our religion and God. I kept putting it aside until I realized that I did need God. I was struggling with myself, with my school work, and I had a lot of issues with the group I socialized with. There came a time where I was sitting in the living room with my grandparents. My parents had mentioned to them that I wasn’t considering what they were telling me about our religion and our tradition. After socializing with them, I came to a conclusion of how understanding they were. Of how my parents were raised, and how important God is to us. They explained how all the extra celebrations we do draw us closer to our family and friends. That our religious practices, like praying, donations, and just simply giving to others were some of the biggest values. It’s important to know you’re background, and how your grandparents, and your parents were raised because most of us do want to follow our parents footsteps. Being hardworking, being kind and respectful matter. Cultural heritage is very important. It boosts our confidence, it teaches us how we can achieve our goals. Our roots is what brought us here, if it weren’t for my parents I wouldn’t be who I am today. It’s beautiful to love what you’re made of, to try to get your cousins or family to get into the spirit. I sometimes notice my cousins or siblings doing something wrong, and I mention to them “La llorona” which is a Mexican well known folklore. That was something that would help me settle down. Over time I began to have similar views to my parent’s, and their teachings. Everyone has a different way to live their life, but our traditions and our ancestors helped shape us into who we are, they helped to created us. Now it’s up to me to help shape my little cousins, and my brother. Their teachings, the life lessons I’ve learned that have brought me where I want to be. Going to church, and believing in God was first. Doing the right things, and giving without expecting anything in return was what I’ve lived by and I’m very grateful of what my culture heritage is teaching me. My parents and grandparents weren’t able to get an education, and finish high school as that’s what they most desired, but now it’s my turn. I have opportunities they didn’t have. They’ve worked hard, and are doing their best to get me to college. I’ve seen their hard work, and now I’m working just as hard if not harder to make them proud and to make something out of my life. I like that I can show my little brother, cousins, and close family friends that we all have a shot in getting an education if we work hard enough for it. Every hispanic parent that wasn’t able to get an education prays that their children do, education is very important in Mexico. Mexico is a very poor country, where you can’t make much out of your life unless your parents are very wealthy. My grandparent’s weren’t wealthy and couldn’t provide a lot for my parents so they worked. As I continue to grow, and become more mature of my surroundings I realize that my culture consists of discipline, and dedication. My parent’s came here as “Dreamers” to make my and my brother’s dreams come true. I’ll be first generation to graduate high school, and start college. This is a life lesson I’ve carried with me, and will share with anybody who is a “dreamer.” Thank you for the opportunity of applying to this scholarship. It’s a blessing. It helps all sorts of cultures achieve their purpose. My hispanic culture purpose is to bring the best I could bring to those around me with love, and dedication. I will carry my heritage on into the future by showing those around me that there are opportunities, you just have to work for them; that education is important; that through God, all things are possible; and family is always important. I will lead by example.

Patty Aragon Memorial Scholarship 2017

Katreena Yeneza was the first recipient of the Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic $500 scholarship. PAGCC’s mission is to build community in the Pagosa Springs and the southwest while celebrating our cultural heritage through local cuisine and music. “Without cultural heritage, the hard earned lessons and magnificent stories of the past would be lost,” wrote Yeneza in her essay reminding us that our cultural past is key to shaping a promising future.

Cultural Heritage: The Quilt of Beliefs and American Fundamentals

By Katreena Yeneza

2007, the third grade, an innocent conversation revealing the differences between my peers and myself, embarrassment. When conversing on the topic of typical breakfast foods, I quickly realized the stark contrast between my classmates’ bread and cereal and my morning rice; it became increasingly apparent that eating rice for breakfast was an uncommon practice. As my peers demanded answers regarding my breakfast choices, I proclaimed my consumption of toast in the morning. I prayed for their belief and acceptance, my lie a desperate attempt to conform. Nearly ten years later, a senior in highschool, I have embraced the cultural differences between myself and my peers. Now, upon receiving bewildered looks due to my differing cultural practices, I explain that these differences must be respected and appreciated. Where I once perceived personal inferiority, I now acknowledge my vibrant Filipino history and determined immigrant background. A nation accepting of my background, the United States is an intricate quilt of nationalities, joined together by the threads of cultural heritage.

Amidst a sea of 318 million American people, cultural heritage provides a means of community and connection. Individuals belonging to one cultural heritage are subject to similar upbringings, creating a deep sense of unity through shared beliefs and practiced customs. For many individuals, cultural heritage is a strong determinant in his or her identity. The traits valued and encouraged in one culture define what an individual perceives as societally correct, emotionally important, and physically appealing. The existence of cultural groups allows the exchange of unique ideas and influenced opinions. Individuals trade information from their own culture for a snippet of another. This permits the exchange of cultures, allowing anyone and everyone to explore the fundamental similarities and differences that have allowed cultures to continuously evolve and inspire future generations. Cultural heritage shapes future descendants by borrowing from the lessons and traditions of previous generations, the identity of each culture passed down from parent to child. The shared connections allow an otherwise distant relationship between the future and past to harmoniously coexist in the timeless field of cultural heritage. It permits individuals to understand their own histories as cultures, the battles and triumphs that have shaped the defining moments of the present. Cultural heritage is the accumulation of generations of knowledge, stories, and history, all waiting to be discovered by individuals of that culture. Without cultural heritage, the hard-earned lessons and magnificent stories of the past would be lost. The strengths of having multiple cultural backgrounds for ideas and innovations would stagnate as the lack of cultural heritage leads to a dull and monotonous habit of thinking and living. Everyone, retreating to the ideologies developed in identical upbringings, would present the same unimaginative solutions to the problems we face as a species. Variety, the spice of life, would cease to exist, leaving  nothing but a tasteless routine on humans’ instinctively adventurous taste buds. The uncertain excitement of visiting a foreign country or establishing a new friendship is removed as the enrichment of differing cultural backgrounds merge into one unanimous blur. Natural precautions prove crucial in preserving cultural heritage and its influence. The process of preservation within each cultural community begins on a singular level, every individual acknowledging the value of cultural heritage and consciously working to preserve it. My own childhood have served as trials to this testament.

Prior to living in America, I resided in Kuwait, a country allergic to foreigners and their cultural heritage. Life in Kuwait consisted of constantly being reminded that as a Filipino, my status in society would never compare to that of a Kuwaiti citizen. My parents, understanding  the repercussions of these unfortunate societal standards, moved to America, the land of opportunity, in search of a better life. Arriving in the United States, the American culture proved to be a colorful mosaic of cultures. My race was not one of inferiority, but, rather, a mere factual difference. I continue to admire the raw beauty of cultural acceptance and curiosity in this country, attempting to embody this core value in everyday life.

Embracing this mindset, I decided to learn the two Filipino languages of my childhood, Ilonggo and Tagalog. I practice by speaking both languages to my parents, watching Filipino film and videos, and translating English text to these languages. I believe that understanding the language of a culture opens an infinite number of possibilities in connections and understanding. As my life progresses, I plan on maintaining my connections to my cultural heritage. I will continue incorporating various aspects of daily Filipino life into my own routines. By doing so, I hope to educate people on various aspects of my culture such as food, traditions, and cultural manners. Besides these daily incorporations of Filipino culture, I plan on involving myself in organizations that embrace my culture such as the Asian Unity organization at the University of Colorado Boulder. I wish to give back to the communities that have greatly impacted my upbringing and outlook on life. I intend to frequently visit my native country, the Philippines, in order to maintain a physical connection to my culture. Immersing myself in the Filipino culture will permit me to see my own heritage develop and influence other individuals. As a Filipino Asian-American, I hope to be a bridge between the two cultures. My unique status allows me to be a participant of both cultures; I will be a translator of both Filipino and American, advocating for the interaction and connection between the two. Perhaps this makes me an orphan, neither fully Filipino nor fully American, neither kababayan or naturally American, a product of cultural marriage. Each culture is a parent, and I am the child, whose unique cultural footprints are evidence of the synergy between the two, creating a definite path in the future of cultural heritage.

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