Hispanic Heritage Month: Eduardo Gomez

All month long we’re celebrating members of our GG+A team with Hispanic heritage and the ways they enrich our workplace and community. This week, meet Eddy Gomez, Executive Assistant to the CEO. 

What is your cultural heritage? (What country do you or your family originate from?) 

My family is from Mexico. They come from a small town called Ojo Seco, Guanajuato, which, roughly translated into English, means “Dry Eye.”  

What are some of the things you value most about your culture? What is unique and special about your family? 

One of the things that I value most about my culture is that we have a big emphasis on family. Family is super important – at times, that’s what our life revolves around. And we make sure that we always take care of our family. When our parents are older, we don’t send them to nursing homes; we take them into our homes and care for them. Another thing I value about my culture is our deep-rooted connection to sports. Soccer is huge in our culture. We follow it religiously. It’s especially beautiful to see how it brings us all together during the World Cup. Mexico prides itself on its national team, and seeing our people united at that level is something words can’t describe. The other things I enjoy about my culture are the music, the food, the art, and the contributions we’ve made to the world that not a lot of people know about. For example, [Mexicans] gave the world color television. 

How long have you been in Chicago? Where else have you lived? 

I was born in Evanston, Illinois. But due to the nature of my dad’s work, we moved around a lot. For a while we lived in San Antonio, Texas. A lot of my memories are from being there, but I also spent four years in Mexico as a child. And I’ve lived in Chicago for the last 10 years. 

What helps keep you connected to your heritage and culture? What are some of your traditions? 

One thing that helps me stay connected with my culture is that, on a daily basis, I practice our native language, Spanish. I use it every day when I’m talking with my mom, who isn’t very fluent [in English], and it not only helps me stay connected with her, but it also helps me keep that part of my heritage with me. Another thing I do is read a lot of news, and I watch a lot of TV in Spanish to learn what’s happening back home. I also take part in celebrations we have, such as La Día De Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, on which we honor our relatives who have passed away into the afterlife. During Christmas we do what are called Posadas. Posadas commemorate the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe refuge where Mary could give birth to baby Jesus. During these celebrations, families come together to worship, sing songs, and then congregate and eat the foods from our culture which include atole, tamales, pozole and Conchas (Mexican sweet bread). 

How did your heritage shape your life as a child? As an adult? 

As a child, I got to experience living in Mexico and being surrounded by people who looked like me, that I could relate to. And as an adult, being Mexican has helped me to appreciate the importance of what our people have done. It helps me to work hard and do the best that I can do. I’m really proud of being a Mexican and talking about it with others.  

How does your heritage influence the work you do? 

I try to do my work through an equitable lens. Growing up, I saw the struggle that my mom and other family members faced because of the language barrier. It was difficult for them to receive services or assistance when they needed it. So, I made a commitment to myself that if I were ever in a position where I had the ability to interact with others or help them, I would do so with strong empathy, first and foremost, and try to deliver superb service and make them feel valued.  

What do you want people to know about your heritage? 

I hope people come to understand and appreciate that we as a people are very welcoming and friendly. We help others before we help ourselves. We’re very hardworking. Even when we’re exhausted, we continue to do what we can to help our family. And I’m also proud of the impact we’ve had in various fields, whether it’s the arts, music, film, or literature. So many artists have drawn inspiration from our culture, our heritage, and our contributions. 

What are some of the ways you like to celebrate special occasions? 

Any time there’s a celebration, I do my best to be with family. And we also celebrate by cooking our traditional foods such as tamales, pozole, and meats like arrachera (skirt steak). Music is always involved. One game that we play almost religiously is called la loteria, which is Mexican bingo. You know how they say Monopoly has the ability to ruin friendships and families? Well, la loteria has that same effect on Mexicans. 

What’s your favorite dish from your culture? Are there any places in Chicago you would recommend that serve it? 

That’s a hard one. It would have to be between pozole and tamales. If you go to areas like Little Village or anywhere that authentic Mexican food is served, any restaurant will be able to serve you a good plate. 

How does your cultural heritage shape your perspective and how you interact with those outside of the Latinx community? 

It’s instilled in us from a young age to work hard and do your best, but also, be kind to others. We treat everyone equally and with respect, despite their titles. And empathy is big. Because of the inequality in the workforce for us, I think subconsciously we’re trying to prove to our counterparts that we can do the same work if not better. Depending on the situation, we may adjust the way we speak or present ourselves because we don’t want to be stereotyped, which sometimes prevents us from truly being ourselves. But I think that’s unfortunate because our perspective is very valuable. I come from a family of laborers and folks working in entry-level jobs. So, when we achieve in certain roles, we do our best to teach the next generation and empower them, letting them know, “As long as you’re motivated and focused, you can do it.” 

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