TALLER PUERTORRIQUENO INC
February 26, 2010
Taller PuertorriqueÃ±o, Inc. is a unique, special, and great non-profit organization. Since 1974, Taller PuertorriqueÃ±o has been an oasis of cultural comfort, a sanctuary for thousands of community members. Although many have found Taller in their youth, Taller has enhanced my world as an adult.
Taller continues to be a place to learn about my roots and make cultural connections. You see, I am an adoptee. I was born and raised in New York by very loving and hard working parents. My parents were always open and honest about my adoption. I remember sitting with them as they read to me a “The Family that Grew”, a book about adoption. This children’s book was critical to learning about me, my family, and what it means to be adopted. When I turned 21, my mother gave me this treasured book, and my adoption papers.
Such precious gifts! I read this document carefully noting my birth name printed on the front “Marie QuiÃ±ones”. I asked my parents if they knew anything about my birth family or their situation. When I asked about the ethnicity of QuiÃ±ones, my mother said the only thing the social worker told her, was that I was Irish. Interesting, I thought, yet I was not satisfied. A year later, I started the search for my birthparents.
Something very important happened as I began this journey; a friend introduced me to Carmen Febo San Miguel, (Taller’s current Executive Director) who kindly suggested that “QuiÃ±ones” is a rather common Puerto Rican name and might be not be Irish, as I was told. This reality was confirmed when I finally met my birthmother. QuiÃ±ones is a Puerto Rican name, MY NAME. Discovering the Puerto Rican roots of my birth name is one of my life’s most significant moments. A moment that has been enriched through Taller.
Taller offers many high caliber cultural arts programs, many that I have come to view and value through my unique multicultural lens. Taller’s educational programs and curricula reflect the mosaic of the Latino Diaspora with bilingual readings, educational seminars, multimedia art workshops and exhibits by world-renowned artists. Attending these diverse programs has opened new doors to learning about my Puerto Rican connections within a warm and welcoming community.
Because of Taller, I have learned about the unique practices of my ancestors through the sacred Tainos ceremony opening the exhibit of rare cultural artifacts, and have been delighted by the sound of the island’s Coquis throughout the gallery and bookstore. I also have been reminded of the invaluable resource of children’s books while listening to an award-winning author of “There Is a Coqui in My Shoe” read to a room full of mesmerized children and their families.
Through these cultural education programs, I watch the children learn, the parents, grandparents, and siblings participate, the community strengthened and I deepened my own sense of identity. Children and youth who have participated in Taller’s programs are successful community leaders and now bring their own children to Taller. Strong partnerships with area schools, government, and other community entities reflect Taller’s continuous commitment to community building and leadership in responding to the changing needs of those it serves.
Through these experiences, I know Taller makes a difference in our individual and collective lives. Taller is an organic collaborative of artists, community leaders, children and youth, adults and elderly, students and teachers, puertorriqueÃ±o’s, Latinos, and members of the region’s ever expanding multicultural and diverse communities. Taller’s 35-year legacy of interweaving academics and the arts and creativity and identity, lives on. Rooted in the richness of Puerto Rican arts, Taller continues honoring a broader Latino cultural cornucopia. Valuing Latino diversity is not a goal of Taller, it is its essence.
I recall a wonderful spoken word poetry reading one night at Taller. I was particularly taken by renowned poet and performance artist Mariposa who graciously signed a copy of her book “Born Bronxena”. After thanking her, she repeated in Spanish, a line from one of her poems.
”No nacÃ en Puerto Rico Puerto Rico naciÃ³ en mi!”
As I was leaving the fabulous event, Taller’s executive director, reminded me of the beauty, power and significance of Mariposa’s [translated] words to me
“I was not born in Puerto Rico; Puerto Rico was born in me.”
Without Taller, the questions of my identity from my youth would persist today. I feel fortunate to have found the unique offerings of Taller’s cultural awareness programs, arts education initiatives, and community building events. The future is bright for Taller and those we serve. As we celebrate 35 years of cultural education, Latino pride and community enrichment. I join with many others in being very thankful to have Taller in our community.
Elena Marie DiLapi, LSW, QCSW
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Supporting the ongoing education of the youth and families in the community. As a resource for professionals interested in cultural competency and the critical role of cultural arts in buidling community. See letter for more details.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
knowing that my efforts help support Taller's unique and important mission... and being part of a warm and welcoming community.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
talented, bright, compassionate, diverse and committed to the mission of Taller and those we serve! The strong positive connections with children and adults served is visible, consistent, and contributes to Taller's positive reputation.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
better meet its mission, expand programs,
hire more staff, develop publications, expand gallery exhibits, artist workshops and cultural arts education. serve as a model regionally,nationally and globally.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every week
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Board Member & Currently serve as Vice Chair of Board.