Contributing To The Obama Foundation’s Hometown Playlist
by Monica Mendoza
In their last message from the White House, Barack and Michelle Obama announced their newly launched website for their foundation and encouraged everyone to stay in touch.
“Tell us what’s on your mind.”
“Tell us about the young leaders, and companies and organizations that inspire you.”
Since then, The Obama Foundation has been actively reaching out through a series of questions posted on their website. Last month I was inspired to share my thoughts:
Tell us the name of a song that reminds you of your hometown. Even better, tell us how it has inspired you to be active in your community.
“I was born in La Paz, Bolivia but the U.S. has been my home since I was 2 years old. My family — mom, dad & three kids — immigrated to the U.S. and lived in Queens, NY. We honestly didn’t have much but my parents somehow found a way to make enough to support their family. Despite having little in material things, we found joy in being a family. I have fond memories of my dad playing his favorite music on weekend mornings. We would sing along pretending a hairbrush was our microphone. Though my dad’s repertoire was heavy with bands like The Beatles, The Doors, The Rolling Stones — there were a ton of South American bands. I loved being immersed in the music of my Latino roots.”
“One song that continues to be one of my favorites is Paul Simon’s version of a Peruvian song, El Condor Pasa. Paul Simon wrote English lyrics that are so hopeful. It’s comforting and it makes me nostalgic; reminding me of my childhood and of all the sacrifices my parents made to make a life for us here in this country. The song encourages us to press on. It’s a beautiful representation of cultures that came together harmoniously. Today I lead a non-profit that is clearing the path for world-changing ideas. We provide mentorship, education and community to social entrepreneurs around the world. We’ve primarily worked in South and SE Asia but I’m excited about the prospect of working with Latin America next year. And just as Paul Simon blended two cultures in song, I hope to blend cultures together in passion. The passion to change the world and to do it hand-in-hand with people of all backgrounds, cultures, races…”
Thank you to The Obama Foundation for inviting us to share our stories.