Buford, Georgia

In March I got the opportunity to visit the community of Buford, Georgia. Although my trip real short–

1 day–I was really surprised by the number of Latinos living in Georgia and deeply moved by the commitment and support for Latino students and their families from the Buford school district, teachers, and the community. But there were more surprises in store for me. When I got to the school I learned, 3 hours before my presentation, that my audience would be all Spanish speaking. Yikes!

I’ve never done “Estrella’s Quinceañera” all in Spanish. The book is written in Spanglish…and I’m not a native speakers! But when I heard that the Superintendent was going to open the event with a Spanish welcome address (fyi: he doesn’t speak Spanish), I knew I couldn’t let the Buford community down. So…I ran back to my hotel room and spent the next 3 hours translating, practicing, and confirming my Spanish with my mom (in California) on speakerphone. The evening was a success. Everyone laughed at all the right places. The families of Buford made me feel like family and at the end I actually felt like a rock star taking pictures with my fans.

This visit solidified for me the importance of having Latino role models and bringing authors to the schools. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to spend more time with the students and get the chance to learn about their lives in the South. I would have liked to meet a Latino with a Southern accent–maybe next time.