Diana Escalante: The union between the community and education
When a person thinks of Diana Escalante, one word comes to mind: community. Even over the phone, you can hear and feel her pure passion for education in the community. Twenty-five years ago, Diana moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic. She found herself in York, Pennsylvania, and fast forward to now, she still lives in York but has a family of her own. Diana has two children, a daughter who is 10 years old and a son who is 8 years old. For her work outside of the Latin American Alliance (LAA), she works at Gateway Health as a bilingual community engagement specialist where she collaborates with hospitals, school districts, senior centers, and more. Gateway Health is a company with a mission to educate diverse communities on health issues, especially for communities underserved by health care. When she has time out of her full life, Diana can be found with her church's singing group, “One Praise”. There are only 5 people on “One Praise”, but they travel throughout Pennsylvania and even other states to sing and share their talent and message with a diverse group of people. Her work in many community settings is the first example that shows the importance of the community to Diana, and the importance of Diana to the community.
Another side of Diana is her involvement with the Latin American Alliance. She began working with the Latin American Alliance in the early months of 2021. She was able to get “a taste” of LAA after a meeting with the organization's president, Jaime Zabala, and after her attendance at a few LAA events. Right now, she is a member of the cultural development committee. Despite her short time with LAA, it hasn't stopped her from participating in many of the organization's activities. Since becoming part of LAA, she was a master of ceremonies for Mother's Day in May and the coronation of Señorita Hispanidad in August.
As she discussed and described the events, it was very clear that each event had something unique and her own contribution to the community and to Diana as an individual. When I asked her about her favorite event, she told me that Mother's Day was her favorite because it was “exciting to see how the students were able to express how they felt about their moms and what made her their hero.” However, her favorite aspect of the events, in general, is the diversity of all the Latino cultures and how each culture is different whether it's the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, etc. contributing to something other than events.
Her active involvement after only a few months is a direct reflection of her passion for LAA's mission and its mission in her personal life, too. When she talks about her reason for joining LAA, Diana takes a moment to think because it was obvious that there are so many crucial reasons for her. However, the theme that unites all aspects of her work, her personal life, and her involvement in LAA is the education of diverse cultures, especially each culture that makes up the Latino culture because “each [culture] brings its own originality to the table". For Diana, her work with LAA is the perfect way to intertwine her work with Gateway Health and her passion as a person because knowledge is power. Although Diana is an educator in her daily life, she can be learned as well because, according to Diana, "the more you know about a culture, the more you understand her reasoning behind something." The hope for Diana is that with LAA's increased education in different and diverse communities, people can put themselves in each other's shoes to create a shared understanding and a greater sense of unity across different cultures.