Jessica Taveras, Marketing Database Coordinator with AHRC NYC’s Public Information Department, explains what Domican heritage means to her.

Hispanic heritage means a lot of different things to people, but to me, it is a reminder of who I am and where I come from. My parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic (DR) for better life opportunities. I think it was very brave of them to have left their country to go live in another without knowing the language or to have had known relatives there. As a Dominican-American woman, I never want to forget either of my heritages. It is something I hold dear to my heart and I would like the opportunity to pass down what I have learned and lived through to my future children.

There are many components to a person that can allow them to support people with disabilities, but I would say that my Hispanic heritage is one of them. Our organization supports many folks and my ability to speak Spanish has allowed me to have conversations with the people we support and their families that don’t speak English. It makes me happy to be able to assist in bridging the language gap.

One of my favorite Dominican meals is sancochoSancocho is not only native to DR, as many Spanish-speaking countries make it and have their own special touches to the delicious dish. Sancocho is a broth composed of several elements–multiple types of meat, root vegetables such as carrots, yuca, potatoes, also includes plantains, corn, tayota, and auyama (also known as Kabocha squash). Once the sancocho is made to serve, my family and I tend to add a bit of hot sauce, lime, and avocado and garnish it with white rice.

I don’t have a favorite Dominican musical artist, but if I had to choose one, it would have to be Juan Luis Guerra. He sings wholesome music that speaks straight to my heart. He is known for merengue, afro-Latin fusion, ballads, salsa, rock and roll, bachata (but a more traditional bolero rhythm), and even gospel.

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican-American author who resonated with me while growing up. She came to my middle school to discuss her book In the Time of the Butterflies, inspired by the true story of the Mirabal sisters who in 1960 who were murdered for their part in trying to overthrow the Dominican government. I enjoyed seeing the play at the Repertorio Espanol in downtown Manhattan.