On December 2017 I was recognized with the Human Rights Achievement Award by the Oklahoma Human Rights Alliance and the United Nations Association of Oklahoma City. My acceptance speech was well received, and I want to share it with all of you:
“When, a few years ago, an angry man at a restaurant told me to “Go back to Mexico”, I didn’t. First, because I’m not from Mexico. Second, because even then I knew I had the right to not be discriminated and the right to seek a safe place to live. Oklahoma was that place for me.
I was born and raised in Lima, Peru. I’m a writer since I was a child, but I realize I was privileged. I come from a family of journalists and professionals in different fields, people who gave value to education, culture, and arts. My passion for reading and writing was nurtured from a young age and I was allowed and encouraged to develop my potential. But I know this is not the case in many homes in Oklahoma and across the globe. That’s why In the past years I’ve focused my career on spreading the love for reading around the world. Access to arts, education, and culture should not be a privilege. I visit school around the world via Skype on a regular basis to read my stories and to share my love for reading. I want to ignite that passion in children too; I want them to feel that writing and reading can be a creative outlet to save one’s life.
Reading is crucial not only because we become more educated when we read, but because books offer us windows and mirrors into other worlds. In books, we find ourselves and people like us, but perhaps more importantly, in books we find others, we wear their shoes, we feel their pain. In books, we learn about empathy.
Next year, my ninth book will be published. It’s called Luca’s Bridge/El Puente de Luca and it is the fictional story of a child, an American citizen whose family is deported to Mexico. With this book I hope to touch the hearts of those who aren’t familiar with the immigration drama. I will dedicate this book to the angry man at the restaurant who told me to go back to Mexico. I can’t help but thinking, if he had had books like this one when he was a child, maybe he would have become a more compassionate and tolerant human being.
Thanks to the United Nations Association of Oklahoma City for recognizing my work and for the important mission they carry out. We all need to be engaged in the preservation of our Human Rights. Let’s all be vigilant, united, and determined.
What an honor it is to be recognized for something I love to do! Thanks to all of you who support me on this journey.