How to Love Hialeah

Today marked the last event that I had planned for the campus at my old job. It was a position that I dearly loved. While it had its challenges, my time in Hialeah will always hold a very special place in my heart. I am so thankful to have been a part of that community. This is something I've been writing off and on since before I left. Today seemed the right day to finally finish and share it.

How to Love Hialeah
In the first month that I came to work at MDC Hialeah, we hosted author Jeanine Capo-Crucet to read from her book How to Leave Hialeah. It is a compilation of short stories that talk about cultural elements of Miami and Hialeah, from raucous families to Santeras and how to live out of South Florida while keeping one’s roots in the Agua, Fango, y Factoria. I was given the book and playfully told that it would give me a good introduction to the culture in my new community. As I began my Hialeah adventure, the book did help me understand a bit of what I had gotten myself into, but nothing can compare to the lessons I learned from the students, faculty and other staff members on our mighty little campus. When people asked me, with big eyes, what it was like to be a white woman working in Hialeah I always told them that I loved it, and here are a few of my top reasons why:

Hello, Hialeah! | Pastelitos | Is it sunny? Or raining? Or both? | Anything you need, you can find in Hialeah | I am… The other white girl on campus! | Collaboration between faculty, staff and students | Help me order from Publix, please! | No, I don’t drink coffee. Yes, I know that is sacrilegious here. | Who has my keys? | Parking. Ugh. | Events in 1119/1120 | Being serenaded by students sitting in Student Life | Cupcakes in the SGA Office | Quick! We need 30 students to attend an event at Wolfson tomorrow! | Welcome Back BBQ | Exactly how many people can we fit into the office? | “Go to quarto piso – catorce quince” | PAN CON BISTEC | It’s raining – Corrinne is stuck in my office, again. Aw darn. | There are HOW MANY people sitting in the front building?! | The amazing cast of The Vagina Monologues | Meet me at ___PM AT&T time | Does anyone need a ginger pill? | Hey favorite professors! I have this neat thing I want to do on campus. Want to bring your class? | Café Cultura | Hialeah Arts Week | Doing travel paperwork with Calderin | Yes, ok, I will send my staff back to IDs | Christine, you didn’t just hear that. | Watching members of SGA graduate | Campus Campout for Haiti | the Graduation Party | Getting stalked by Public Safety on the cameras | Hearing ‘my kids’ sing at the concerts on campus | The students, faculty and staff I worked with every day.

For whatever reason, people seem to look down on Hialeah as both a city and campus. And unfortunately sometimes that seeps a bit into the culture within the town itself, I think. I heard too many times: "Oh, it's 'just Hialeah,' don't worry about it!" But I have never known such loving, passionate, tenacious people. I took to thinking of this 'diminishment' as a cloaking device that protects the community by keeping out people who don't deserve to see how excellent it is. I am so happy to have accidentally landed in Hialeah, and to have been welcomed so fully into a place that would give me so many great memories. 

For me, How to Leave Hialeah was with a full heart, appreciating the last couple years at a truly unique place, and looking to the future with a smile.