Vamos Talks with Fernanda Hinojosa
Fernanda Hinojosa is a Mexican Attorney who is currently working on her passion project, Nicho Hispana: a platform to help Latinas grow and advertise services like cleaning, cooking and teaching Spanish. Fernanda discusses her journey navigating Los Angeles after living in Mexico her whole life. She shares her perspective on the duality of culture within America, and discusses what shocked her most upon moving to America.
Vamos Foods connected with Fernanda Hinojosa to learn more about her experience coming to America from Mexico, and we got to hear more about her exciting project. Read below to read the interview!
Where are you from?
I’m from Mexico City, actually more like outside of the city- from Satélite. I was born and raised there and I moved to the city when I started college. I met my husband in Mexico City at a nightclub and then saw an opportunity of getting a Master of Law here in LA. I’m an attorney, and I started my Masters at Loyola Law School for a year.
Can you tell us a bit more about the transition of you coming from Mexico- having grown up in Mexico your entire life- and then moving to Los Angeles full time?
Before moving to the US, I didn’t have a ton of interactions with American people and its culture. I just came to the US to visit, shop and party, but I never had that cultural interaction. The biggest fear I had of moving was never finding authentic Mexican food like back home. And to my surprise, I found great Mexican food.
I used to think that I was never going to feel in my home, like in Mexico, where we are very warm and very welcoming. I was like, no, Americans are not like that. Then I moved here and realized that the way Mexicans interact is very different than that of Americans.
Has moving to a state with a big Latino community helped in your transition?
In my opinion, the people that were born in Mexico but have lived in the US for some time now have a duality of being American and Mexican. The way of thinking is very different between me and a Mexican that has been living in the US for more than 10 years, or a second or third generation Mexican-American. I’m starting to understand that Mexican and US cultures are very mixed for some people. It’s been amazing to see so much Mexican influence the US.
LA has given me so much and so much to be proud of. To be able to see so many Mexican influence in LA and California has been incredible. I've been able to really recognize that even though we are not in Mexico, Mexican culture is a big part of the US, specifically in LA and California.
Have you experienced any struggles or challenges by being a Latina in the U.S.?
I think first of all, my English is not perfect. My English has improved so much since I moved here and it’s much better, but it’s the small things that make it hard to fit in perfectly. A lot of times I just feel like an outsider in social scenes, because I might not know a reference or saying. In Mexico everyone is very welcoming, if you’re hosting people, you always make them feel at home. For me that hasn’t been the case when I go to parties and get-togethers in LA.
Do you think people have prejudices because of your English?
Well, some people ask me “where are you from? I love your accent!”, and they think I am Colombian or Argentinian, never Mexican. There’s also people that when you say something without a perfect pronunciation, they're like, “What?”. People that don’t speak more than one language have way more trouble understanding what I say than people that are bilingual. They don’t have to ask me “What?”, they just figure it out.
Speaking so much in English is exhausting at times. When you're in conversations with people who are always speaking English you have to think twice about what you’re about to say. There are times that I just feel like not talking to be honest with you. It’s definitely way harder to be my true self in English, and at time I wish I could communicate just as well as in Spanish. I’ve been here two years so maybe it’s just a matter of time, but it’s still tiring and exhausting. Whenever I have the chance to speak in Spanish, I take it and enjoy every moment of it.
Can you tell us more about the project you’re working on?
Nicho Hispana is my dream project and life mission. It’s a platform that helps Latinas advertise their services like cleaning, cooking, or teaching Spanish lessons. The purpose is to create a platform for Latinas to truly showcase themselves. I think right now, other platforms that offer these services don’t reflect the Latino community, when at the end of the day Latinos are the ones doing the work. I think that as a Mexican and a Latina, I need to do something about it. It's our duty to make Americans understand that we are not only tequila, tacos and guacamole. We're way more complex than just that. I want the platform to show the reality of being Latino, by showcasing Latino products and services without a middlemen taking a piece of the pie. I really want to give these women the opportunity to take ownership of their businesses.
What does it mean to be a Latina?
I think being a Latina is being very positive about life as well as a fighter. Latina’s are fighters. Their fight is in the house and in the workplace. Also being a Latina is knowing how to enjoy life. I don’t think American culture has this relationship with happiness. Not because it’s a bad thing, but it’s just different. Latinas are so happy despite all the struggles we have to face, we enjoy everything we have.
I’m so proud of being a Mexican woman. Coming to a country with this positive and different way of looking at things adds value to the US and American culture and society. We know how to enjoy life, and you can see it in the relation we have with food. For Latino’s food is a way to connect with your family and community. Also in the importance of family, and having a support system no matter what. We’re working people, you know, so I think the combination of all this stuff is what makes me so proud of being Mexican.