Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight: Crew members reflect on culture, traditions and careers

Published Date: January 6, 2023

Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, honors the generations of Hispanic and Latinx Americans who have influenced and enriched our society, and celebrates the cultural heritage of our community members, friends and colleagues. At Pacaso, we have Crew members across more than 20 states and 5 countries. Being a fully distributed company allows us to access a broader, more diverse talent pool; creating a space for people with diverse perspectives, experiences and knowledge is part of our company culture. A diverse Crew leads to stronger, more innovative teams, and helps us better serve buyers and owners of all backgrounds — especially as we become a global company. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we spoke to two of our Crew members, Pacaso Home Managers Ramon Antelo and Paula Jessen, about their families and cultural traditions, and how their culture influences their work and daily life.

Celebrating your heritage, embracing your present

Ramon: “I was born and raised in Miami, part of the first US-born generation of a Cuban family who came here as asylum-seekers. My grandparents on both sides were exiles. They left everything in Cuba — their homes, bank accounts, cars — thinking it was temporary and expecting to go back. That never happened, so they embraced this country and culture, and they were very grateful for the opportunity to come here. I am an American with very strong Cuban roots, and my family honors many Cuban traditions.” 
Ramon and family
Paula: “I’ve lived in Park City, UT, for the past eight years, but I was born in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, and most of my family still lives there. I didn't intend to stay in the States long term — I came here through a one-year exchange program in 2013, and after an orientation week in New York City, everyone went off to their destinations, which for me was Park City. That’s when the adventure started. In the beginning it was really tough because I didn’t know anything or anyone, but eventually I came to love it here — the mountains and nature and everything Park City has to offer. After my year, I went home to Colombia for a couple of months, and then I decided to come back and see if I could make a living here. That was almost eight years ago and I’m still here, so I guess I did it right! Even though I’ve been here for a while now, I never forget where I came from, and I’ll embrace my Latin American heritage to the end of my days. I’m very proud of being a Latina and having an accent (which I didn’t know I had until I came to the States!).”
Paula and family

Holding on to cultural traditions

Ramon: “Food is a big part of Cuban culture. My family eats a variety of foods, but some of the Cuban foods we enjoy are pork, rice and beans, and plantains. For Christmas, a traditional dinner would include a whole roasted pork, yuca con mojo, black beans and chicharrones. We Cubans love our music and our salsa dancing, and I’ve tried to pass all those cultural traditions on to my children. My wife is Mexican, so there’s a mixture of a lot of different Latin flavors in our house.Living in Miami, it’s a big melting pot of Latin cultures. There’s access to plenty of Cuban food, as well as food from Colombia, Venezuela and all of Latin America, and you’ll hear Latin music on many of the radio stations. It’s a great town to be in.”Paula: “One thing that the Colombian traditions have in common is that you always gather with your family. When I first moved here, it was a little strange to me because I didn’t see those kinds of gatherings happening as often. Some of my favorite traditions are around Christmas, which starts with día de las velitas, or ‘Little Candles Day’ on December 7. You gather that night with your neighbors, friends and family and light candles, making a wish for each candle for the next year. And we eat buñuelos, which are round cheesy fritters, and natilla, a soft custard with cinnamon that is the most delicious thing — you gain all the pounds in December in Colombia! We also have something called muñeco viejo or año viejo — the ‘old new year.’ You get some old clothes and create a person, like a scarecrow, that represents the old year, and then you burn it as a way to leave behind the year that is ending.” 

Bringing your whole self to the workplace

Ramon: “An aspect of my cultural background that has really benefited my career is being bilingual, especially working in Florida and in the hospitality industry. I was the oldest of all the cousins, and when I went to kindergarten I didn’t speak English yet since Spanish was our language at home. That’s one of the things that has shaped me, plus the desire to work. My grandparents on both sides were pretty well off in Cuba and had to start over with nothing when they came to the States. I work very hard honoring my grandparents, who started again and built up what my family has here. To me it’s a blessing and core to my work ethic.Something I love about working at Pacaso is seeing the diversity of associates across the board, especially as we grow globally. It’s a very inclusive workplace, which will help our customers from Latin America, Spain and elsewhere. I think we’ll attract many buyers from Latin America who want a second home in South Florida.”Paula: “Being bilingual has helped me relate to and communicate with other people, especially when I worked in program management and interacted with people from Latin America who sometimes didn't speak English. Sharing a language helped them feel like they belonged and see me as a friend. Every time I work with teams in the field, we’re able to communicate and work toward the same goals. In my experience, people from Latin America are hard workers, and we want to do our best at everything. Living and working in Utah, I’ve often felt like a minority or have been the only person from Latin America or anywhere outside the U.S. When I came to Pacaso, I discovered one of my team members was from Peru, and then in company meetings I started seeing other people who had an accent. It was so amazing to see the diversity and what people bring from their cultures! So that’s what really reinforced my sense of belonging here at Pacaso.” 
Interested in joining our diverse and distributed Crew? We're hiring! Check out our open roles.

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Amie Fisher

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