I took my kids to visit El Barrio Logan.

In so many ways, it felt like I had come home. We were out exploring in the city, on the type of adventure we haven’t done since COVID-19 began. Beginning in Chicano Park, we began walking through this local site known for representing Mexican-American culture. Their stories and their cries for justice are depicted in eighty murals painted under the Coronado Bridge.

If I am honest, it was like a breath of fresh air to meet kids who didn’t understand or speak any English. I felt instantly connected–my people! Yet my joy quickly turned to sadness, for I know kids in the States really do better if they can succeed as English language learners.

The murals pricked at us, starting all the conversations. And it felt right to be engrossed in the artwork with norteño playing on someone’s speaker in the background. Even though that type of music always drove me crazy, it was a constant. That accordion never ceased to weave in and out of my childhood’s soundtrack.

Even greeting the homeless as they talked among themselves was familiar. They might be the ones who’d come over for Thanksgiving dinner.  My youngest fully believed the police were helping the men camped out under the bridge. I didn’t want to break it to him that they might be enforcing laws, not caring for them. That started a long conversation, as well.

As I sat with my own kids, enjoying our paletas de fresas and chicharrones de harina, it was obvious that my childhood experiences had become a major influence on who I am, what I do, and even why I write to you. I know my kids will have a different story than mine. And yet everyday moments like these–with the adventures, books, movies, tastes, cultures, people, art, and conversations we introduce them to–are the greatest shaping tools.

Who knows what they’ll take away from our adventure to el barrio, where I introduced them to my own influences. I can only pray that it might empower them to become everyday world changers.