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Latinx Heritage Month: A new connection with my culture

To honor Latinx Heritage Month 2022, we asked Latinx members of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health community what the month means to them. We will be posting the responses throughout the month, which ends October 15, 2022.

Today, we feature Associate Professor Gustavo Valbuena, MD, PhD.

What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.

Paulo Freire

Gustavo Valbuena says that he grew up in Colombia denying the value of his own culture. 

I grew up under the relentless influence of American colonialism, denying the value of my culture and creating a myth about the U.S. that led me to immigrate,” Valbuena said. He moved to Texas in 1996 to pursue his medical residency and a PhD in experimental pathology. 

This month’s celebration of Latinx heritage is an opportunity to build a new connection with my culture and a sense of belonging,” he said. 

His favorite parts of his heritage are food and dancing. “I share my heritage with my children by cooking some of our favorite traditional food, by dancing together to our beautiful music, by visiting our family when possible, by going to the Latinx market to get goodies from Colombia, by telling them about my upbringing and what made me happy as well as my struggles with social inequality,” Valbuena said.

Read Valbuena’s full response here.