Keeping her culture

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tara Fadenrecht
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Dancing to Salsa and Merengue music through the house, cooking and eating dishes such as Bolon de Verde and celebrating Carnival are just a few of the Ecuadorian traditions she longs to keep alive.

After living in Ecuador for 18 years, Airman Allison Campoverde, 22nd Medical Support Squadron medical records technician, followed her parents to New York.

Campoverde said that she missed her friends and family. The language was different, the climate was different, even the transportation system was different from what she was used to in Ecuador.

Although the culture was new, Campoverde was able to maintain her Ecuadorian traditions by integrating herself with other Ecuadorian people in the area. She found Ecuadorian restaurants to eat at and venues with a Salsa Night where she was able to dance to her favorite music.

After joining the Air Force and coming to McConnell, Campoverde found it much more challenging to incorporate her favorite traditions into her new life in Wichita, Kansas.

"I was trying to find an Ecuadorian restaurant where I can eat," said Campoverde. "There are no Ecuadorian restaurants here. Usually I cook by myself. If I want something Ecuadorian, I will do it."

One of her favorite traditional dishes to make, Bolon de Verde, includes a mashed plantain filled with cheese and pork, she said.

Being away from her country and her family forced Campoverde to find a new family to fit into. Her friends and coworkers provided just that.

"After a week or so she just fell right in," said Ayanna Baker, 22nd MDSS release of information technician. "She sings and we sing along with her. We dance. We're close. I think that has a lot to do with being around family, because I believe her family is very close."

The lack of Ecuadorian heritage in the local area has helped Campoverde appreciate McConnell's recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic Heritage Month occurs every year from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. This year it is being celebrated here with events including a 5K Fun Run, potluck, salsa making competition and a Salsa dance night.

Not only is this month important to Campoverde because it teaches other people what Latin American culture is about, but also because it reminds her of the Ecuadorian traditions that she used to partake in every day.

"This is where I come from," she said in reference to her Hispanic heritage. "I'm part of this. I belong to this. It makes me feel really proud."