Contributions by Nelsy Gutierrez, Regional Front Office Supervisor at PRN
I have the privilege to be born in Venezuela (South America). Just to give you an idea of my beautiful country, Venezuela's landscape includes towering mountains, tropical jungles, broad river plains and arid coastal plains, all of which provide a diversity of natural habitats.
Venezuela is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. Venezuela's highest peak is the Pico Bolívar with 4,979m/ 16,335 ft. Venezuela does not only have very high mountains but it's also known for the tepuis, which are very unique table-like flat mountain landforms. Venezuela is known for the world's largest known oil reserves and has been one of the world's leading exporters of oil. Also, is well known for beautiful women. Growing up with these things in my mind can make you believe, “You are the most beautiful woman and in one of the richest countries in the world."
In Venezuela, people greet one another with a handshake, a smile and with the right greeting depending on the time of day. When we are in groups of more than two people, a person always introduces themselves to the oldest person first. We always address a person by their professional title along with their last name. Unlike Americans, we don’t leave a group without saying goodbye to every person individually and that’s one of the reasons I hug and kiss people before I leave. When we have work events such as COD meetings or social gather, I hug every staff member to say goodbye.
When a Venezuelan gets invited to a dinner party, we normally arrive 15-30 minutes later than we were told to come. This is so we don’t seem selfish by arriving early or on time. It was a cultural shock for me when my American friends asked me “Why are you always late”? I was trying to be respectful, but now that I'm adapted to American culture, I am only 5 minutes late.
Food is a big deal for us, as Venezuelan food is influenced heavily by Spanish, Italian and French culture. Each region of Venezuela has different kinds of food. There is a plethora of fish and different seafood on the coast. In the Andean region, food dishes consist of sausage, meat and trout fish. The Amazon region has very diverse types of food compared to the rest of the country. Some of the traditional dishes served throughout Venezuela are the Arepa, a cornmeal cake, Cachapa, a thick pancake, the casabe, a type of bread made of yucca and Empanadas, which are deep fried and stuffed with corn flour. We do not eat spicy food or even have tortillas at home.
We LOVE to party and get together often, we pretty much celebrate any holiday, we celebrate everything, as it’s a great excuse to get together. Some of the most important national holidays are New Year's Day, Carnival, Declaration of Independence, Labor Day, Carabobo Battle Day, Saint Peter and Saint’s Paul’s Day, Independence Day, Indigenous Resistance’s Day, All Soul’s Day, Christmas Eve and the list goes on and on. If you get invited to my house, you will need to prepare yourself mentally and physically to stay up dancing all night long.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my beautiful country, Venezuela. National Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of our past and an opportunity to build a stronger future. It's a chance to learn more about our culture and how it shapes who we are. It's also a reminder that everyone can be part of the festivities and join in the fun, food and music.