Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: A Q&A with Ali Valdivia, Account Supervisor at Poston Communications
- Posted by Ali Valdivia
- On October 6, 2020
- diversity and inclusion, Poston Communications
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
The majority of my family is Nicaraguan with a little bit of Cuban sprinkled in, so Hispanic Heritage Month is incredibly special because it’s start marks the anniversary of Nicaraguan independence, among other Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
My father grew up in Nicaragua, emigrated to the United States at a very young age, and worked incredibly hard to live out what he envisioned as the “American Dream.” As a child, I saw his commitment to our family and his strong work ethic, and today, that has driven me to work hard to achieve my goals. As a first-generation college graduate, I always think back to my father and how he gave me the opportunities that he was never given so that I would have a better life.
To that end, I am proud of my heritage and grateful that there is a dedicated month for our society to learn more about Hispanic culture. As we find ourselves in a divided country, I believe it is more important than ever that we educate ourselves on each other’s beliefs and cultures so that we have more openness and compassion toward one another and our different backgrounds.
Not only is Hispanic Heritage Month a celebration of the contributions that Americans, who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South American and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean, have made to American society and culture, but it is also a time to reflect and reconnect with our roots. During this time, I make a dedicated effort to reconnect with my family and learn more about our culture and the many obstacles that we have overcome together.
What unique perspective has your Hispanic heritage given you?
Family values are incredibly important in Hispanic culture. This perspective guides my everyday life as I always think about how my contributions to the world will impact my family and relationships. In a Hispanic family, it is incredibly hard to be selfish. You are always thinking, “How can I ensure my family is taken care of?” or, “How will my decisions impact my family?”
With this perspective in mind, there is also an incredibly strong work ethic at play. Knowing the obstacles that my family has overcome, and continues to overcome, drives me to work hard to ensure that my generation continues to grow and have more opportunities than the prior generation.
How does your culture impact the way you advise clients and communicate – both internally and externally?
My first language was Spanish, so the way I communicate with my family differs very much from the way I communicate with my clients and peers in English. Although most of my family speaks English – or at the very least understands it – we still choose to communicate with each other in Spanish. This is our way of connecting with one another and ensuring that we do not forget where we came from.
I apply this thinking when it comes to my clients by looking for ways in which I can connect with them on a deeper level and learn their ideal communication preferences. In my years of advising clients, I have found that each prefers a different type of communication, whether it be emails, texts, calls, in-person visits, etc. This is vital in ensuring that clients – and team members – are comfortable.
Beyond finding the proper ways to communicate with clients, my culture plays a pivotal role in my work and the ways in which I advise clients. We have all seen PR campaigns that have gone wrong due to insensitivities related to race and culture. As part of my role in serving as communications counsel, I am extra mindful and aware of others’ cultures so that I can prevent my clients from moving forward with an initiative that could be deemed insensitive and ultimately hurt their reputation.
Working in PR and co-leading our firm’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee initiatives continues to fulfill my passion for educating myself and those around me on the importance of understanding cultural differences in order to be an effective communicator in today’s world.
What are some of your favorite news sources that celebrate Hispanic culture?
Unlike my father’s generation, I am lucky to live in a world where there are abundant resources and websites dedicated to celebrating Hispanic culture. Among the many websites I visit, the following are my top favorites for content that is aimed at advancing Hispanic perspectives:
Ali Valdivia is an account supervisor at Poston Communications.