Music prodigy, deported

Yerko DiFonis / Image source: NYdailynews.com

This is Yerko DiFonis, a 17 year old piano prodigy who has perfect pitch and has followed his dreams despite the obstacles, in part thanks to his determined parents.

Yerko was born in Chile, blind and partially deaf. When his parents discovered his musical talent and grew frustrated with the lack of opportunities for their son in their native country, they sold everything and came to the United States. In New York, Yerko flourished. Fitted with special hearing aids and attending the prestigious La Guardia school of the performing arts, Yerko, an honor roll student, learned to be independent and spent his days pursuing his passion but in October of 2010, U.S. Immigration deported Yerko and his family.

Now living in Chile, Yerko continues with his music, but dreams of coming back to study in the United States some day.

To read more of Yerko’s inspiring story, or to make a donation which will go towards continuing his education, visit the Hear The World foundation.

Los Americans

I really want to watch this new web show on PIC.tv. It starts tomorrow (May 26) … Check it out:

Show description:

Los Americans is the story of a modern, affluent, suburban Mexican-American family living in the United States. The Valenzuela family is totally assimilated in U.S. American culture, and that’s the way the patriarch, Leandro Valenzuela, or “Lee” as Leandro prefers to be called, likes it. He’s moved on from speaking Spanish and the ways of the old country. As he proudly says, “We’re not Mexicans. Mexicans live in Mexico. We’re Americans.”

Lee is right in that he and his family will face many of the problems and challenges all Americans face, that all human beings face – unemployment, homelessness, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, abortion, immigration, childhood obesity and others. But Lee will also face another problem in that he has forgotten his native language and moved away from his culture, ultimately losing part of who he is and where he comes from, and he will learn that maybe this is not such a good thing. Welcome to a story about real Americans… Los Americans.

The cast of Los Americans

What do you think?

Links:

Watch the show online and find out more at PIC.Tv/LosAmericans
Los Americans on Twitter

La Casa Blanca y La Familia López

Driving by the Washington Monument on our way to the White House. (Carlos calls this "La Aguja" - "the needle.")

The visit to La Casa Blanca was bien chivo although President Obama wasn’t around to welcome me as I had hoped. I didn’t tweet or blog until now because between waking at 4 a.m. for the White House tour and preparing for our trip to Miami, I’m just super cansada.

I wish I had a lot of photos to show you, but on White House tours, no cameras are allowed inside. And honestly, although it’s fun to say, “I’ve been to the White House” – the section they allow you into is really more of a museum than actual living quarters for the family. (I didn’t even so much as see “Bo” – the Obama family’s dog!)

When you first walk in there are photos of the Obama family on the walls of the foyer. The very first photo prominently displayed, was President Obama with mariachi. I instinctively reached for my non-existent camera before remembering – no cameras allowed so I hadn’t brought it. I did find the photo on the internet though so you can see.

(By the way, I found this photo on a website called Obama Looks Bored, which features photos of President Obama looking bored. Love it.)

There were a lot of fancy furnishings, three immense crystal chandeliers that weigh 1200 pounds each. Each chandelier takes 72 hours to clean. (And that is the extent of historical tour guide type data I retained.)

There are various rooms named for colors – The Blue Room, The Red Room (which looked hot pink to me for some reason – but I loved it), The Green Room, etc.

In the Green Room a painting caught my eye and I wanted to remember the artist so I could look it up later. Without a pen and paper I had to rely on my memory, which isn’t so good. To remember things, I usually have to play word games with myself. So, to remember the artist, Jacob Lawrence, I said to myself, “Jacob Lawrence, Jacob Lawrence, Jacob Lawrence… how can I remember his name? … Oh! Jacob Have I Loved!”

Carlos immediately turned around, “Whose Jacob?”
“The artist of that painting,” I said.
“No, the other Jacob you loved,” he said narrowing his eyes.
He didn’t believe me for several minutes that ‘Jacob Have I Loved’ is the name of a book.

The Builders - by Jacob Lawrence

The Obama family in the Green Room, (the painting I like is in the background)

(The painting turned out to be ‘The Builders’ by Jacob Lawrence, if you want to read more about it.)

Once we were outside, we were allowed to take photos, so I took a few with my cell phone camera.

White House lawn being cut.

Back outside the gates.

The future 1st Latino President and his hermanito.

La Casa Blanca

[Scroll for English translation!]

Hoy es Spanish Friday pero casi no tengo tiempo por escribir mi post. Es las 5 de la mañana y estoy lista por ir a la casa de mi amigo, El Presidente Obama.

(Gracias a mis padres, hoy, la familia López anda en un tour de La Casa Blanca en Washington D.C.)

A visitar Barack voy! (Si está en casa!) Hasta luego, y si participaste en Spanish Friday, deja tu link en comentarios!

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

Today is Spanish Friday but I almost don’t have time to write my post. It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and I’m ready to leave to go to the house of my friend, President Obama.

(Thanks to my parents, today, the López family is going on a tour of the White House in Washington D.C.)

Off to visit Barack! (If he’s home!) See you later and if you participated in Spanish Friday, leave your link in comments!

House Divided (book review)

House Divided is the second book in a trilogy by Raul Ramos y Sanchez. If you didn’t read the first book, America Libre, start there.

The story takes place in a fictional future where civil war has broken out between American Latinos and the U.S. government. Manolo Suarez, a third generation Mexican American who barely speaks Spanish, is just one of many Latinos who has been forced into ghettos across the country.

When this series first came out, the plot seemed realistic and yet far-fetched at the same time. In today’s anti-immigrant atmosphere, these books will definitely give you chills.

America Libre, (the first book), I really loved – so I was eager to read this second book. Honestly, for the first half of House Divided, I felt lost at times with the military talk. As the story line became more about the logistics of the war than about the relationships between the characters, I became a little anxious for something to pull at my heart strings. I know these chapters would play out awesomely on the big screen as a film, but war novels aren’t really my thing.

Thankfully, in the second half of the book, a compelling page turning plot twist is introduced involving Manolo’s teenage son and a gringa, which grabbed my attention and really appealed to me on an emotional level.

Over all, I ended up liking the book enough that I look forward to the third book, Pancho Land.

Disclosure: This book was provided to me for review purposes. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received for this review.

Los Herederos del Monte vs. President Obama

As much as I like President Obama, I think those of us who missed our telenovela on account of the State of the Union address are feeling un poco triste today. I mean, don’t get me wrong – President Obama is handsome in his own right, but it’s kind of hard for anyone to compete with 5 shirtless cowboys.

Well, here is a photo to cheer you up. Now, recuerda, I’m doing this for you, not me.

Te sientes mejor? … jijiji… Seriously though, does anyone have any idea how to style hair the way Paula has it? I managed a similar style but I think that my curling iron isn’t fat enough. (After an hour working on it Carlos told me, “Come back to reality! You’re not in a telenovela!” … but when I was all finished he really liked it. Men! They don’t realize that beauty takes time – at least for most of us.)

Anyway… the most dramatic thing that has happened in the past few episodes has been Efraín catching José and Beatriz kissing and then basically kidnapping baby Simón. That’s the subplot that has me most interested right now. I sort of hated Beatriz at first but now I feel bad for her. I also felt bad for Modesto when Sofia told him that Simón isn’t his real grandchild. I don’t like Sofia at all.

Who is surprised that Juan has been resisting Paula’s seduction! Go, Juan! … wonder how long he’ll last before kissing her again? (And yet, I can’t help but feel badly for Paula now that she’s really in love with him and not just playing games.)

Okay – enough chisme. Someone requested lyrics to “Desde Que Estás Aquí” which is Juan and Paula’s theme song. I listened to the song and transcribed the lyrics, but because I can’t find the complete version of the song online, this is only the part of the song you hear on the show. (Gracias to my husband, Carlos, for helping me.)

Desde Que Estás Aquí (Lyrics/Letra)
performed by Paola Vargas and David Castro

(Listen here)

Desde que estás aquí
el centro de mi mundo se movio
llegaste a estremeserme el corazón
desde que estás aquí

Desde que estás aquí
no hay logica respuesta ni razón
late desorvitado el corazón
desde que estás aquí

Dejame ser lo que soy
Ya no se cuál es tu amor
Todo lo que tengo es lo que doy

Desde que estás aquí
Preciso otro momento
Para saber lo que siento
aquí en mi pecho

Desde que estás aquí
tu fuego es mi alimento
quemandome por dentro
Tú tienes como el viento.

The Other Side of Immigration

Whether one believes in compassionate comprehensive immigration reform which brings undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and allows them to fully become a part of their community, or an overhaul of our entire system with a focus on enforcement – we all agree that something must be done… but what?

The Other Side of Immigration is a documentary about what has caused our current immigration problems and what can be done about it – from the other side of the border. The honest, thought-provoking interviews with Mexican people discuss many aspects of the immigration debate which many Americans have never even considered. Elders of Mexican towns talk about how things used to be in their once thriving communities when one could make a living off the land. Former immigrants who have been to the United States talk about what drove them to go, and why they returned to Mexico. Wives and children who are left behind, talk about what it’s like to have the family broken in pieces – a necessary evil to survive.

This is the best documentary I’ve seen this year. I wish this film was mandatory viewing for every member of Congress.

Disclosure: This film provided to Latinaish.com for review.