If you’d like to look deeply into two of Latin America’s diverse cultures, check out the Latina Republic website for some recent articles by Vianna Villacorta ’21.
She joined Latina Republic as an intern in the fall of 2020 to fulfill a requirement for her bachelor’s in Spanish studies with an emphasis on translation and interpretation. As a correspondent for the nonprofit, she researched and wrote feature stories that explored the impact of COVID-19 on Haiti, surveyed the cultural traditions of Haiti and described practices of spiritual healing in Bolivia.
“I chose to write about Haiti because although it’s part of Latin America, a lot of people don’t speak about it, because it’s tiny and they don’t speak Spanish there,” says Villacorta. She found Haiti fascinating, but for her third article she decided to focus on a Spanish-speaking country and chose Bolivia. “I came across some of the indigenous culture there, and I was really intrigued by that, too.”
The U.S.-born daughter of a mother from Mexico and a father from El Salvador, Villacorta has absorbed a good deal of Latinx culture. She’s made numerous trips to family in Mexico and visited Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Nicaragua as a tourist. But her parents didn’t teach her to speak Spanish. That gap is part of what drew her to her major.
“As I got older and started college, I wanted to embrace my Spanish culture and heritage,” Villacorta says. “I think that by pursuing this major and this path, I’ll be able to find myself, and find my own identity.”
Although Latina Republic publishes in English, and Villacorta wrote her stories in that language, she used Spanish exclusively when she worked with her mentor at the organization, as he was Chilean and didn’t really speak English.
As Villacorta heads toward the next step in her career, with plans to pursue an MBA, she expects her language skills to play a significant role. “I want to do global leadership,” she says. “With my background in Spanish, I want to be able to do intercultural communications, in areas such as marketing.” Of course, she adds, other options she discovers in graduate school might pique her interest as well.
Besides exploring her identity and potential career paths, Villacorta says that thanks to her internship she has also been finding her own voice and building self-confidence. “Writing for Latina Republic made me more self-aware about what I want to do and become,” she says. “When you go into a career or job, you need to know who you are and what you have to offer.”