"Alonzo," 27 years old, has been living in the United States since he was 6 years old when his family decided to migrate from Mexico in search of the American dream. Like many his age, Alonzo is struggling to find a job in this downtrodden economy. As a bilingual college graduate, highly skilled and motivated, "Alonzo's" story is the perfect reflection of the hardships that a new and vibrant generation of Latinos are facing; not only in terms of competitiveness in the labor force but also in the fight to be integrated and accepted as part of the American fabric in general. See, even though "Alonzo" has been living in the United States for most of his life, he still remains undocumented.
"Alonzo's" case is not unique. Today, more than 350,000 college students are still undocumented, meaning that as graduation rolls around the same number will be forced to get fake documents or end up working in the ever expanding "shadow" economy. Yet, like "Alonzo" most of their stories often go untold. Some are afraid of the repercussions, others lack either the means or the medium.
Cuéntame, a new project by Brave New Foundation is providing the means and the medium for people such as "Alonzo" to be able not only to tell their own personal stories, but also to connect with others who share similar experiences and who are looking for ways to organize and make a difference. Via Facebook, Cuéntamehas been able to create an interactive community and use original video content to reach out and engage Latinos. The name Cuéntame in itself has a double meaning in Spanish; it translates as both "tell me a story" as well as "count me in."
From topics such as immigration, health care, military recruitment, workers' rights, and education among others, Cuéntame hopes to create a safe, creative, and informative space that could potentially become a powerful organizing political tool. Already the page has attracted over a thousand fans who are spreading the videos, contributing to the creation of new ones and coming up with unique ways to organize around issues that are currently impacting the community.
As more and more Latinos like "Alonzo" start using platforms like Cuéntame to come forward and share their personal stories, and as those stories grow into stronger and more powerful narratives, this new and vibrant generation of Latinos will be able to face the hardships of today's economy with greater ease knowing that they too are part of the overall American story.
Follow Axel W. Caballero on Twitter: www.twitter.com/axelwcaballero