Gabriella's Heritage, Wendell FFA

My parents were born and raised in Jalisco, Mexico. I remember when I was younger, my mother would always tell me her story: her struggles as a child, what she went through and why she's so mentally tough. She always reminds me that I am so fortunate to have everything that I do. My parents met in Santa Maria, California, at a restaurant. Which is crazy to me, because now they own a restaurant here in my hometown, Wendell, Idaho. Many people don't realize how many hours they put into this restaurant, or should I say, my 2nd home. My siblings and I spend most of our time there, whether it's working or eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This restaurant defines why I am who I am, and shows the dedication and hard work my parents have gone through since they came to this country. 

 I have lived in Wendell, Idaho my whole life, 18 years now. It was never a big deal to me that I was Latino. I never really noticed it, or should I say, appreciated it until I entered my freshman year of high school. Honestly, I think I was embarrassed about it, especially since I couldn't speak Spanish that well and I always messed up when I spoke English. To be frankly honest, most of the time I can't speak either. I never felt like I could fit in. Yes, I was born here in the United States and could relate with others most of the time, but sometimes you just don't and that was rough for me. I didn't appreciate who I was or my ability to speak two languages until I joined FFA.

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 I didn't plan on joining FFA until my mom forced me to, and it was just because my cousins in California did. She didn't know what it was, but she did know that my cousins were successful and she wanted me to have those opportunities as well. I joined and competed in the Creed LDE. I procrastinated memorizing it until 2 days before the competition. I didn't do anything else after that until my ag advisor took us to the State Leadership Conference. At first, I thought it was pretty unconvincing. I couldn't relate to anyone. I know it’s something people shouldn't notice, but as I sat in that chair and looked around, nobody "looked" like me. I didn't see any other Latinos, besides the other two in my chapter. I know it’s bad of me to have noticed that, but I didn't feel like I fit in. Then, I saw and heard Jenny Bautista give her retiring address. She began with "Yo creo en el Porvenir de la Agricultura con una fe que no surge de las palabras...". She spoke about an FFA competition that was held in other states for Hispanic students. She continued to talk about how she used to be embarrassed of her Hispanic side and that she could never relate with others until she finally embraced it. After her speech, I realized that I was in tears. I felt and understood every single word in that speech like it was my own. To this day, I still tear up when I think about it. Since then, I have wanted to run for state office, because like her, I want to make a change, and show that diversity is important.

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 Not only was I inspired to make a change and run for office, I learned to embrace my ethnicity and my traditions. I also wasn't scared to be judged for my Spanish, and I began volunteering and helping whenever they needed a translator at my school or wherever else I was needed. I began expanding my knowledge of Mexican history and culture. I go to Mexico almost every year, which helps. I try to have discussions with my parents about their past struggles and memories, so I can keep them alive and pass them on to my children.

 When I run for state office, my goal is to inspire those like me and show them that diversity and being different is so important and essential. We all have something different to bring to the table and we shouldn't be ashamed of that. I aspire to bring more Latinos into this association, especially here in Idaho. Most Latinos have a background in agriculture because of their parents and we should learn to embrace and use it to our advantage. It is crazy and amazing to think about how much Hispanics and Latino Americans have contributed to the country's history, heritage, culture, and, most importantly, the agriculture in our day to day lives.


Gabriella, we admire how proud you are of where you come from and appreciate you sharing your story with all of Idaho FFA.