Marielin Rottkamp is the secretary of the cultural development committee for the Latin American Alliance. That committee is dedicated to teaching local students about the cultures of different Latin American countries. The committee has many events to promote the idea of diversity and inclusion, such as a poetry contest. Her passion for education, family, and community make Marielin Rottkamp an asset to the Latin American Alliance.
When she was 13 years old, Marielin and her family moved to the United States when her father, who worked for a bank in Uruguay, was transferred to the Bank of New York for two years. She and her family settled in Queens, New York, and Marielin attended a school where all her classes were in Spanish. But after a while, she started taking classes in English. She told me about this experience, “After six months they took me out of the bilingual program and put me in mainstream classes, all in English. I knew how to read and write in English because I had taken six years of classes but it was English from England and it took me a while to adapt to American English.” But, when I asked her if that acclimatization was difficult for her, she replied, “No”, with a positive aria, “New York was a new adventure”. And just as the family led her to move to New York, it also led her to move to Lancaster in 2000.
In a reminiscent voice, Mrs. Rottkamp explained her experience of moving to Lancaster, “We moved to Lancaster in 2000. My husband's family always vacationed in Lancaster and when we got married we came to visit and we really liked it. It seemed like an ideal place to raise my children. They were 5, 4, and 1 years old.” She explained to me that in Lancaster her children participated in many activities such as sports and how his life revolved around those activities for 20 years. And in 2014, her daughters participated in the Latin American Alliance literature contest, winning first place and an honorable mention, respectively. And it was that experience that put her in contact with Latin American Alliance.
When speaking about her first interaction with the Latin American Alliance, she said, “L.A.A. - It gave me the opportunity to meet other Hispanic people who live in Lancaster and make friends. Before the contest where my daughters participated, I did not know any other Hispanics. This organization gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my roots.” And her work with Latin American Alliance helps the community connect with their roots and the cultures of people different from themselves. She works in the Warwick school district and has a passion for literature and education, and on the cultural development committee, Mrs. Rottkamp is able to pursue those passions. In the interview, she expressed “A couple of years ago I joined the cultural development committee because it is the committee in charge of the poetry contest. I love reading the poems the students write.” As a woman with a passion for poetry myself, I asked her if she has a favorite poet and she replied with a chuckle, "I don't have a favorite but I like any poet whose poetry I can understand." But while she likes to tell jokes, she has serious aspirations for the future of the Latin American Alliance.
When I asked her what she would like to see for the future of Latin American Alliance, she told me, “I would like all the schools in Lancaster and Lebanon to participate in the literature contest. You may have two contests during the year. My daughter, who is a Spanish teacher at Cocalico, told me that the contest in May does not give students who only take Spanish in the fall the opportunity to participate.” Her desire to expand the programs of the Latin American Alliance to a broader audience shows me how strong her passions for literature, education, and her work with the Latin American Alliance are. And because I had the opportunity to get to know Mrs. Rottkamp's passionate and positive personality, I am confident that those aspirations will be realized.