Here Valencia talks about identity and culture. Born of a Chilean father and a Puerto Rican mother, Valencia discusses her identification as Puerto Rican. Early on, Valencia was steeped in Chilean culture through her father’s association with the Fraternity of Chilean Brothers. She even learned the cueca, a traditional Chilean dance, now the national dance of Chile. Valencia identified as Chilean until her first trip to Puerto Rico. She fell in love and never looked back. Valencia traces this sense of identity through a short stint in parochial school in Puerto Rico, struggling to learn to write in Spanish, and the dislike of warm milk. She tells a story of “institutional discrimination”: a New York City teacher would use Valencia during social studies classes as an example of what a “Chilean Indian” would look like. Valencia's sense of herself as Puerto Rican is so strong that identifying as “American,” by virtue of her passport, is challenging. The strength and endurance of Puerto Rican identity is transmitted to her children and grandchildren who are of multi-cultural backgrounds yet also self-identify as Puerto Rican.
Puerto Rican Congress of New Jersey