My Heritage, My Dream

Updated September 4, 2021 . AmFam Team

We’re celebrating two American Family Insurance employees who celebrate their Hispanic heritage and how it connects to their dreams. Learn about their dream journey and advice for fellow dreamers.

Who you are helps shape what you dream about — just as your dreams can help shape who you become in the future! It’s a wonderful cycle of learning and growing, and it often starts with your family, your community and your cultural heritage.

Here at American Family Insurance, we believe a dream is the most valuable thing you’ll ever own; that’s why our mission is to inspire, protect and restore dreams! So in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked our internal dream experts — our incredible Dream Curators at the American Family DreamBank, a free community space and online community dedicated to the inspiration and pursuit of Dreams — to share how their heritage has helped shape their own dreams.

Dreaming of Greater Confidence

As a Dream Curator, finding and pursuing dreams are everyday activities for Leticia Rodriguez-Perez — so it’s no surprise she’s a big dreamer with plenty of her own dreams! However, there is one dream that has risen to the top for her: “Right now, I'd like to find confidence in myself.”

Eric grew up in Miami, Florida, carrying on the Cuban traditions passed down to him from his parents and grandparents. He also explained how where he grew up was heavily influenced by Cuban culture:

“My parents are Cuban. They were born in Cuba but moved to Miami when they were very young. Both of my grandparents were born and raised in Cuba. I identify as Cuban American because while Miami is part of the US, you can go 30 years without learning a word of English and be perfectly fine speaking only Spanish. In the area of Little Havana everything from the food, coffee and music is Cuban.”

Eric and his wife moved up to Madison, Wisconsin, for job opportunities. Here in the Midwest, they continue to enjoy Cuban traditions through music and food.

“I would say the three things I’m most proud of when it comes to my heritage and identity would be the music like Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan, the culture and the food. I grew up on white rice and black beans.”

While the food is one aspect of his heritage he treasures most, it has also posed a challenge for his current dream pursuit. Eric is on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. And, like so many others who share his dream, the path to wellness can be long and full of a lot of ups and downs.

“I’ve struggled with maintaining a healthy lifestyle my whole life,” Eric described. “I tend to fluctuate around 40 pounds every year. For example, I recently lost 30 pounds a few months ago and I gained like 20 pounds back recently. So my dream is to maintain a healthier lifestyle and to stay consistent.”

While Eric is proud of his heritage, he explained how the historical struggles of his ancestry and today play a role in the challenges he faces in his wellness journey:

“Cuba has historically struggled and still faces poverty and food scarcity today. So, having family that comes from a country where food is very scarce there is an expectation that you finish a plate of food when it’s handed to you. It is disrespectful and wasteful to not finish everything that's on your plate — leftovers aren’t a thing. So I’ve been battling being overweight and overeating since I was a kid.”

How does Eric overcome these challenges? With consistency and support from loved ones.

“Consistency is key, and it’s all about minor improvements every day to get closer to your dream. It won’t happen overnight. Also, with eating right, you don’t have to wait till Monday to start, every day is another day to do better — to be better.”

While the culture around food has created some challenges for Eric on his journey to better health, he also relies on support from loved ones who share the same background and understand his situation best:

“I’m thankful for my wife and my family for the support they’ve given me on my journey. They understand my struggle with making the right choices when we are all surrounded by temptation.”

When it comes to eating the Cuban food that Eric enjoys so much about his heritage, he recognizes that you can still indulge while staying on track for his fitness goals: “When I go back home to Miami, I finally get to eat Cuban food I’ve missed so much, and it is what brings my family together. But that’s not the main issue, it’s about being consistent when I’m home and on a regular schedule.”

Eric’s ability to understand how the culture he grew up continues to impact him today, and his ability to embrace both his pride in his heritage and the struggles he sometimes feels as a result of it, is an inspiration for us all! Self-awareness and reflection are key steps on the path to any dream. With these two awesome tools in his hands, Eric is confident he’s on his way to the healthiest version of himself yet!

Resources for Dreamers

Do you have a dream you’re pursuing? Since Leticia and Eric are in the business of curating dreams, we checked with them to find out where the best place is to start on your dream pursuit:

Leticia advice was to keep your eyes open for opportunity and take initiative:

“We are in a country full of opportunities, and I think there are many resources. But I really believe that it all depends on you: that you set your goals, take the time to discover your dream and find the perfect resource for you, like DreamBank!”

Along with support through their in-person and virtual space, Eric also advised dreamers to take a page from what he’s learned through his health journey and stay consistent:

“Consistency is key — make minor improvements every day to get closer to your dream. Consistency isn’t not necessarily just for the healthier lifestyle too, but for any kind of dream. For example, if you want to become a better writer, staying up on it and writing every day little by little can help you achieve something great. It just won't happen overnight.”

And there you have it! We can learn a lot from Leticia and Eric, but their biggest lesson? Embrace your heritage! Whether it helps you get closer to your dreams, or may add an extra challenge to achieving your dreams, your heritage will always be part of who you are. Only when you embrace all of yourself can you truly unlock your full potential and achieve your wildest dreams!

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