Monday, July 11, 2016

Faces of Repelón: The Lawyer

Enter into my community classes on any given night and you will be greeted with a sea of willing and eager faces, just waiting to soak in more English knowledge that they did not possess before entering into the classroom. On Wednesday and Friday nights, there is always one bespectacled, smiling face that will greet any visitor that walks through the door. This face belongs to Laura Mercedes Imitola Galeano.

Born in Barranquilla, Laura grew up surrounded by one brother and two sisters. Her mother, who is the oldest of her siblings, was a strong family head and presented a very strong role model for Laura to follow. Her father, the youngest of twelve siblings, provided her with a more docile and fun-loving side. These two presences helped shape her into the person that she is today.

Growing up, Laura loved to play soccer in the streets in front of her house with her siblings and neighbors, ride her bike and climb the tres in the surrounding área. The day that she looked forward to every year was December 24th, Christmas Eve. This was the day that she was able to spend time with her father's family, which she didn't get to see as much as her mother's family. These nights were spent enjoying delicious bowls of sancocho, sharing gifts, and enjoying each other's company.

During primary school, Laura remembers being timid and shy. Sadly, she was picked on by other students, which caused her early schoo memories to be unhappy and despressing ones. However, once she reached high school, she was able to discover a love for learning that she still possesses today. Laura formed self confidence in her abilities that has helped her become a successful profesional today.

Upon her successful graduation from high school, Laura spent six years studying human rights at the University of Atlantico in Barranquilla. This led her to her current job, in which she represents members that work in the public sector, specifically those in the cleaning industry. Her respresentation of these individuals helps to ensure that they receive equal benefits and are not taken advantage of in the employment system.

Living in a small community like Repelón has its obvious advantages and disadvantages. According to Laura, one of the biggest advantages is the people of the pueblo. The kind and giving spirit of her fellow Repeloneros is something that she really cherishes. She also enjoys the walk down to the Cienaga del Guajaro (the lake that borders town). Of course, the constant heat and overall lack of fruit trees in town are a few of the disadvantages.

Along with kind and friendly people, pueblo life is very tranquil and low-key when compared to the hustle and bustle of the cities. However, sometimes this tranquility can lead to unhealthy routines that center around television and sedentary activities. In Laura's opinión, this is because there are not many options in the pueblo for families and other citizens to enjoy. The number of parks are limited to what's available in the plaza, which is a few swings and a concrete soccer field.

In the future, Laura would love to travel to India to take in the architecture, food, history, and culture that it has to offer. She also sees the Indian culture as one that has been able to maintain a distinct character over the past centuries. In regards to the United States, she sees it as a very prosperous country that is open to the world population as a whole.

From the beginning of my community classes, Laura has always been someone that I can count on to participate and provide answers when others may be more hesitant. She definitely has a bright future and I am very confident that she will continue to do great and wonderful things for Repelón and the surrounding communities!

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