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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Mena

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month. To celebrate this month, we're featuring the incredible Hispanic + Latina women in our Village. Starting with Mena. Learn more about Mena + her heritage here.

Tell us a little more about you, your heritage, and how it influenced you?

Hi mommas! You all know me as Mena but since I’m telling more about me and my heritage let’s start with my full name . I’m from Barranquilla, Colombia (same town as Shakira and Sofía Vergara ) and my real name is María Jimena Martinez Quintero (quite a mouthful I know). It’s one of those heritage & cultural things, we keep both our parents last name which I guess in a way explains a lot about our upbringing. Family is a huge part of who we are and how we grew up. I had the fortune of growing up in the same city as most of my extended family so even though it was only my parents, my older brother and me, we were always surrounded by family. Weekends would be spent all together at our grandmothers’ house so we basically spent all our time hanging out with our cousins, aunts, and uncles. It definitely becomes a huge part of you and even though we are basically all spread out around the world now we are in constant communication with each other, hence the 5 family chats I have in WhatsApp ( sooo thankful for this technology ). I moved to Atlanta 9 years ago for grad school and to Huntsville in 2013. That year Jaime and I got married and we had Fernanda in 2018. Jaime is also from my hometown and we’ve actually been together for 18 years now.

How has your heritage shaped you as a mother?

As a mom now I constantly draw from my childhood memories and try to replicate as much as I can with Fernanda. There’s a lot of FaceTime calls, birthday videos, and just random calls and videos going back and forth; from the big events and holidays to the simplest everyday things, I call my mom, aunts, and cousins at least 4 times a week for a recipe, advice or just random chitchat. For special occasions and holidays, I also try to recreate as many traditions as I had growing up with her. Also music, I grew up listening to all sorts of music and we are known for being very loud and loving to dance so if you have had a class with me you know I definitely do this with Fer. We are always playing (very loudly I should say) Colombian and Latin music in our house and car.

What do you want your kids to know about their heritage?

I want her to be proud of her culture and to know and experience as much as she can. I wish for her to have the same close relationship I have with my extended family and I want her to know that family, wherever it might be is and will always be her port at sea and where she can come and go as she pleases. I want her to speak the language, know the songs, cook the cuisine, and live the culture.

What else would you like to share about your heritage with us?

We have one of the most awesome carnivals in the world. It’s four days of music, dancing, tradition, parades, food and partying. If we ever do an international-themed class I would love to share some of the music and food with you!