Growing up I felt a little embarrassed, whether is was the color of my skin or my parents not speaking English, something was just always off. Those insecurities that I felt as a child, as an adult me da orgullo. For the last year, I have actively been trying to revive an association that for many years went silent. Failed attempts, lack of community engagement, and a bunch of other trails led to the most amazing event this past weekend.

The Dominican Association of Lancaster was seen as a powerhouse of young Dominican American adults looking to make a difference in our community. Along with my stories, I will also be sharing reflections of our events! February 27th is Dominican Independence Day, the Association decided to put together an event to honor Dominican owned businesses here in our community. Months of planning and the big day came and went……

Lets start from the beginning….so there’s three of us; Sai, Josh, and I (Leslie)! Together we make up a pretty cool team, we each have different visions, different upbringings, and totally different ways of thinking, but what we do have in common is our love for the Homeland….La Republica Dominicana (insert heart emoji). A year ago we decided that we wanted to put events together on behalf of the Association that would leave an impactful memory to those that were present. We had some bumps along the way, failed events, and we learned from each experience. As a team, we grew stronger and our passion even more!

Sunday, March 1, 2020, The Dominican Association of Lancaster put together Dia De Independencia Dominicana. An event that paid homage to those who were contributing in a big way to our community, and because they did not press pause throughout their careers, were almost unaware of their accomplishments. As the business owners arrived, they were interviewed by a local podcast (The Sassy Vagilante) then greeted by their peers. We opened the discussion with a thank you to them and those who came before us, as a surprise we had the Mayor of Lancaster also speak and acknowledge their work (and I don’t know about you, but Dominican’s are proud folk, so this is a big deal), the Mayor handed out certificates of appreciation to a special group of business owners who would be apart of a panel discussion…

This is where we captivated our audiences, you see they weren’t talking to their kids saying “Tu no sabes el trabajo que pase yo para que tu puedas vivir asi”, they weren’t talking to their friends back home saying “Muchacho no puedo ir pa ya, tengo que estar en el negocio todo el dia”, they were talking to the very community that shopped with them, ate with them, received services from them. They were telling a story…their story…a story of their how, when, why, and where. I stood in disbelief as I asked question after question, holding back tears of appreciation, knowing that something magical was happening. After the panel discussion we had a beautiful Dominican Poet read a few of her poems…they brought smiles or each face in the audience from ear to ear. She spoke in words we knew and trusted, she spoke in a language that only a Dominican would understand.

All in all the night was beyond inspirational, and I cant wait to update you all on all the we have planned…….STAY TUNED!

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