I’m Michael Alvarez, director of Hispanic Connection of Northern Nevada (Formerly United Latino Community), and the purpose of this column is to speak for — and speak about — a growing segment of our community that could have been represented better in the Nevada Appeal in the past.
I approached the Appeal a while ago with the thought of improving the communication gap within our Hispanic and American segments and connect the dots, if you will, to improve our rapport. Carson City has a large Hispanic population (20 percent to 23 percent, depending on whom you ask) and for various reasons you probably never realized it. It could be that in similar cities, Hispanics live together in certain areas and go unnoticed. It could be the language barrier; Hispanics will frequent businesses that have a comfort factor for them, and will be loyal to those businesses. Partly as a result, people make incorrect assumptions about Hispanics because they are not in their line of sight; they might assume they are hiding because of immigration issues or choose to intentionally exist on the fringes of society.
In most cases, nothing could be further from the truth. Most people who come here do so with one purpose in mind, to better their and their families’ lives.
Am I an immigrant? Well, yes; I came here from Washington state with my family. I migrated here because my son was born allergic to 90 percent of the tree species in the Northwest, and Carson City fit the bill. As those of you who are parents know, we all will make the needed sacrifices for our children’s sake.
I’m passionate about my job because it involves helping Hispanics connect with this community — whether it’s helping them with immigration paperwork on the path to citizenship, offering ESL classes or guiding our community’s youth to becoming bright, productive members of our society. I have lived in Carson City for a little less than a year, and I love it. The people make the difference here. Before working in my current job, I was a substitute teacher in Carson City and worked at many schools. I met many wonderful people in the community who made me realize something important: I am home. You’re going to read about events and cultural changes in this column because, frankly, this voice is long-overdue. And those aren’t just my words; they’re the words of the editor who brought me aboard, as well as the community I live in.
If you’re Hispanic and think this column is aimed at you, well, you’re partly right. If you’re not and think this column is meant to exclude you, please think again. This column is aimed at inclusion, not exclusion. I aim to prove that to you in coming weeks.
Michael Alvarez is the director of Hispanic Connection of Northern Nevada.