By all accounts, Guillermo and his family are winners. He was a sophomore at the time this video was made, and he had an powerful story to tell about his family’s survival. This past spring, he emerged as a leader on the high school campus, wrestled in the state’s championship tournament, and accepting the role of mentor and tutor for younger high school students enrolled in the GEAR UP Virginia program. But what makes a winning spirit? And how do individuals survive in the face of trauma, loss, and displacement?
Like many students of of Virginia’s “New Latino diaspora,” Guillermo finds that survival rests with the ability to adapt to new social environments and new cultural terrains. This ideal language of survival can be found in the accounts of many immigrants who have written and spoken on the subject of cultural assimilation in America over the past 150 years. What differs is Guillermo’s focus on the importance of family bonds and family bonding. The spirit that Guillermo finds through his faith is not just something that gives him strength, but something that holds his family together. It is that sense of strength together, that sense of familia, that we believe marks Guillermo’s winning spirit as something special.
Thanks to Derek Kramer and Erick DeSanctis for producing and editing this video project, as well as to Professor Shaun Wright of JMU’s School of Media Arts and Design for always supporting the students and mission of SLI.