How a racially built environment is completed by its community members to make it a home.

I have the privilege of being a part of the Leadership Austin 2021 Essential Class. This year the program curriculum is exploring complex regional issues with a diversity of perspectives brought by a talented pool of classmates. The 42nd Leadership Austin Essential Class is a force to be reckoned with. Each of us comes to the space with distinctive lived experiences, ready to step out of our comfort zones, and committed to hold each other accountable in order to grow and enhance our leadership within our communities.

In December the class ventured into los barrios, that is, the communities of a built environment. Never before had I seen mi barrio from a built environment lens. And, never before had I heard of the sustainability of a built environment, “the environmental durability, efficiency, and quality of the physical spaces” where I lived, went to school, and experienced my new country as an 8-year-old immigrant girl. To add to this mind-blown experience, there should be sustainability that comes from the prioritization of community members’ voices who hold the lived insight and experience of el barrio?!!?

Reflections on the 12th day of October

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Columbus Day

The first recorded celebration of Columbus Day in the United States was October 12, 1792. A New York City political organization known as Tammany Hall commemorated the 300th anniversary of Cristóbal Colón’s arrival to the Américas in 1492, albeit by error.

In 1892, during the 400th anniversary, President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed the first official Columbus Day holiday in the United States. This was an effort to de-escalate a rising tension within the New Orleans community after a mob of vigilantes, fired up by anti-immigrant sentiment, lynched eleven Italian immigrants in 1891. …

Abstinence & the Multicultural Experience

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Photo by Alex Motoc on Unsplash

In reminiscing about the impetus to my entrepreneurial ventures, I had an amusing memory of my time teaching at UT Austin. Imagine this…

… a young mother huffing and puffing through the hills of campus, lugging a briefcase and diaper bag, pushing a double stroller carrying twin babes, with her toddler son in hand, maneuvering through the crowd of students, attempting to get to her classroom building in time to tag her husband, hand off the kids, and make it seem as if she had it all put together, ready to present an inspiring lesson on language and culture, thinking that the only inspiration she mustered was…

How math becomes a girl’s head trauma in grade school

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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

It’s been a while since my last childhood story. Truth be told, I have not been inspired by any childhood memory lately, until my sister’s phone call dragged me out of bed at two o’clock one afternoon. This was after a 12+ hour, hard-fought battle, migraine. It was kicking my a**.

You see, as some of you know, I battle migraines regularly. And while I’ve been diagnosed with hereditary migraines by a neurosurgeon, keep a migraine journal to avoid triggers, and take prescription meds, there are natural triggers that cannot be avoided. …

An Angel That Needed a Cig

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Cottonwood Tree at Cooley Elementary School

Ever experience the feelings of frustration and defeat when others cannot, and do not, understand what you are trying to convey? The inability to communicate clearly and be truly understood has been and continues to be Teresita’s paramount anxiety since crossing the border. You know.., learning to play that popular and amusing game of charades, NOT!

As much as Huck Finn continues to be misunderstood, Teresita battled linguistics and communication so much a nemesis to this eight-year-old immigrant that now is a passion for an adult professional, incessantly attempting to learn from the discipline.

The experience of this anxiety was, yet again, the need to go home. The hindrance of the English language and the mental refusal to learn it engendered Teresita’s anguish and rage. Her parents were still in the process of fully transitioning to the US. There were early morning and long treks every weekday to attend school. The car lines at El Puente Libre, the Bridge of the Americas, to cross from Ciudad Juárez to El Paso were permanently LONG. It gave Teresita’s older sister and her enough time to practice saying “Uh-meh-rih-kuhn” without a Spanish accent once at the Border Patrol booth. …

Second Grade, the Big Year

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Photo by

Much like Tom Sawyer, Teresita was not much into school studies at an early age. Since making the move to US public schools during the days of the English-Only Education movement, Teresita struggled with the language transition. Dreading school daily, she would beg her mamá to return a casa. “In México, we are accepted, loved even. Here…, not so much.”

Entering second grade should have been exciting anticipation. It is the year to deepen the skills of language and math, a year of emerging confidence and independent thought. …

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Norman Rockwell Illustrations of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn (1936–1940)

The Adventures of Teresita

These short childhood stories are memories from a defining stage in my life as I experience a border life. For the most part, they are lived memories with a little bit of creative seasoning. I came to accept and admire the creative eye and mind that was eight-year-old Teresita. She had a way of seeing the harsh world and creating a fun and embellished experience to mimic the characters of her few and cherished books. …

After reading 3 Things to Know ahead of Guatemala’s Presidential Runoff by Paola Nagovitch, I wondered if there was any similarity between voter turnout in Guatemala and the Latinx community of the United States. It could be said that there may very well be a significant similarity.

It is not uncommon to experience push back against spending time, energy, and money in an attempt to sincerely engage with the Latinx community of voters in the US. The Latinx communities, diverse in age, culture, native language, and other demographic characteristics, have become even more complex as to how to engage with them on social issues, political campaigns, and voter turnout. …

Since the Midterm Elections 2018, the Cultural Hub conversation has centered around the question of “what’s next?”

Quick historical context, the SV Cultural Hub served as a grassroots headquarters for the Beto O’Rourke US Senate campaign. It brought together over 100 North Hays volunteers that provided support in multiple areas. The Hub was the North Hays part of the largest GOTV grassroots machine that registered voters, lead phone banks, text banks, canvassed neighborhoods, hosted rallies and debate watches, answered midterm elections questions, and raised funds. …


Teresa CarbajalRavet

Chief Culturist at Sententia Vera, LLC | Cultural Bilingual Communication | Mothering 5 Bicultural Souls

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