My story is an unlikely one. Statistics would suggest that I should be incarcerated or dead due to youth violence. Yet, counter to all logic, I’m a representative in the 10th largest city in the United States, representing well over 100,000 residents from diverse backgrounds. As an immigrant from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, raised by a single mom in East San Jose and who was the first in my family to attend college, my story is unlikely yet I believe only possible here in San Jose, a city rich in diversity and opportunity.
The dynamism embodied by the beautiful diversity of our city confirms for me the importance and quite frankly, the necessity, of building bridges across cultures. In this ever-shrinking world, we must fill the void between countries, cultures, and people, by building a bridge of communication, appreciation, understanding, and partnership. The interaction between cultures in San Jose is truly a microcosm of what Sister Cities International does within countries and cities around the world! For this reason, at every opportunity, I’ve been an active participant in Sister Cities International events.
Several years back I had the opportunity to be part of a delegation of leaders visiting Guadalajara, Mexico, to learn about its industries and opportunities for collaboration. I also had the distinct honor of being part of the delegation to visit San Jose’s sister city, Okayama, Japan, in which we learned about Japan’s culture, industry and people. Participation in both trips left a profound impression on me.
Since Norm Mineta, the City of San Jose has been an active and engaged participating in the citizen diplomacy space and has been a familiar face on the board to help guide its work. I believe San Jose is uniquely positioned to continue the great work of Mr. Mineta along with colleagues of mine such as Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco and Councilmember Raul Peralez. With Councilmember Peralez coming off the board, it leaves a void that I would like to fill.
In this ever-shrinking world, now more than ever, we must engage across languages and cultures to break down barriers and I believe this can be done via citizen diplomacy. As the 10th largest city in the United States, we must continue to play a role in building relationships with diverse communities and countries, especially when, on occasion, our federal government seems unwilling or unable to build strong relationships with other countries.
My experience participating in Sister Cities International events and trips along with my appreciation and understanding of why the work is done blends well with my life experience and I believe makes me uniquely qualified and prepared to step onto the board to help move its mission forward.
I’m a consensus builder and a champion of inclusion. My life experience and my work on various boards will benefit the boards’ efforts. I have a strong personal understanding of the work SCI does. Similar to citizen diplomacy, I strive to build bridges between diverse communities. I believe it is important to have diverse life experiences amongst board members and I feel I can add value to conversations and decisions.