“We live in country that doesn’t remember the past,” said Sra. Bordas, who noted that one out of every five people currently living in America are immigrants. “America’s history cannot be complete until everybody’s history and accomplishments have been told.”
Sra. Bordas, a native of Nicaragua, presented two similar back-to-back presentations on Friday as part of the library’s Open Book Series. The speaker was originally scheduled to do one presentation, but the arrival of about 100 students from Toledo’s Waite, Start, and Bowsher high schools was delayed two hours due to pea soup-like fog that delayed their school day.
Instead of waiting for the students, Sra. Bordas graciously agreed to do a 10 a.m. presentation for the 100 adults who had already gathered at the library to hear her speak. She repeated the presentation when the students arrived.
Understanding your identity is the first step towards developing into a leader, Sra. Bordas told both audiences. She used her own experience as an immigrant to make her point.
“I used to be embarrassed that my mother didn’t speak English and had to work as a housekeeper,” said Sra. Bordas referring to how she felt as a youth. “As I grew older I realized what a hard worker she was, how strong of a women she was to raise a family; I admire her for it today.”
Throughout history, many groups of people, African-Americans for example, have had to learn to overcome adversity in the United States, she said.
“They’ve had to develop a sense of unity, resiliency and personal relationships with each other to maintain their sense of identity,” she said.
Latinos, who are comprised of various ethnic groups, must also learn about their history and culture in order to overcome the adversity they face in the United States, she said. All US-Americans could learn and better understand diversity if they understood how diverse Latinos are.
“A lot of people really don’t understand diversity because they don’t understand their culture,” Sra. Bordas said. “We’ve all heard that saying, ‘You need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.’ Well nobody has ever made it by their own bootstraps. It took the help of family, teachers, religious leaders and others in the community to help each other.”
Some US-Americans are still in denial about how diversified the nation has become, but there’s no denying the fact that recent immigrants are starting new businesses at a much greater rate than other US-Americans, Ms. Bordas said. They are also obtaining better educations than in the past, represent a much greater number of the work force, and are voting in greater numbers.
“We’re all part of building this new millennial multicultural generation. We are becoming a bilingual country.”
Sra. Bordas was also the keynote speaker at the Diamante gala.
Ms. Bordas was the winner of the 2014 International Book Award for multicultural/indigenous literature, is the president of Mestiza Leadership International, a company that focuses on diversity, leadership, and organizational change. Her book Salsa, Soul and Spirit – Leadership for a Multicultural Age won the 2008 International Latino Book Award for Leadership. Her work, The Power of Latino Leadership, which was released in 2013, received both the 2014 Nautilus Prize for best multicultural book and the 2014 International Latino Book Award.