Ms. Taraneh Abreu isn’t unfamiliar with having a positive influence on those around her.
As an ESE support facilitator here at Fort Lauderdale High, she spends the majority of her time collaborating with students who possess unique abilities– a passion that she attributes to her experience in the “Teachers of Tomorrow” program in elementary school.
“[I] was a peer mentor for a student with autism spectrum disorder which sparked my passion for being an advocate for the ESE community,” she expressed.
Yet, something she considers just as valuable in her life is her Latina heritage. As a first-generation American hailing from Ipatinga, Brazil, Ms. Abreu discovered her authenticity through the medium found between American and Brazilian culture.
“Once we started elementary school, we adapted quicker and began to blend the American culture into our lives,” Ms. Abreu said, detailing her and her brother’s experience with cultural fusion.
But identifying with both backgrounds, she often felt alienated by her peers as a child, describing this struggle to find her niche as one that made her feel separated in a pool full of similarly-aged students.
“My culture was so unique to that of my peers- I belonged, but wasn’t understood,” she revealed.
As she grew up, this feeling of detachment from her classmates evolved– manifesting itself into a struggle to identify with a racial group as an adult.
“Everytime I fill out a form or a legal document and they ask to disclose my race, I struggle to select the appropriate answer,” stated Ms. Abreu. “I am not Hispanic, nor am I white. I am Latina, and often that is not a choice.”
But it is through the duality of Ms. Abreu’s cultural background that she finds her niche. Whether observed within her participation in Sunday Churrasco at her aunt’s house, her enjoyment of Feijoada (black bean and pork stew), or her adoption of American culture, she identifies with the best of both of her worlds.
So don’t worry, it isn’t looking likely for Ms. Abreu to stray away from her Latina heritage anytime soon. While many are often forced to abandon their cultural roots, she remains dedicated to staying true to herself.
“I know the importance of not forgetting who I am,” she said.