Jennifer Maldonado-Son Jarocho gave me the space to feel connected to El Sereno

I have lived in El Sereno since I was a little girl. I attended Sierra Vista Elementary, El Sereno Elementary, El Sereno Middle School and Woodrow Wilson High School. All I knew was El Sereno.I love the food and the people. When my mom would take me and my friends to school, we would stop at El Aguila Bakery for champurrado and conchas. I remember the canela smell and its’ warmth during the cold mornings before class. The concha de vanila has been my favorite since then because it was always soft and ready to eat. I felt connected with my community because I was supporting a local business that has been opened for a long time.

I joined the Eastside Cafe when I was a senior. I was recruited by Hector Flores to join the Son Jarocho workshops for beginners. My first workshop was facilitated by Mapache Ruiz. He showed us the jarana, 8-string guitar, and begun to play. Once I heard the sound this instrument produced, I fell in love. I became dedicated to learning and determined to continue learning beyond the Eastside Cafe as well. I met great people from El Sereno and traveled with them to fandangos, gatherings of Son Jarocho musicians.

Once I left for college in San Diego I realized I loved the Eastside. At the university there was no Son Jarocho and a small representation of the Latin@ community. What El Sereno taught me was to remember and be proud of where you come from. I was connected to El Sereno is other ways though. I began to organize Son Jarocho Workshops at the Che Cafe with local San Diego Son Jarocho musicians. And when we traveled to fandangos I would see my friends from the Eastside Cafe. And we would spend hours playing Son Jarocho, platicando y chismeando. Son Jarocho gave me the space to feel connected to El Sereno.

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