“Abre los ojos. Open your eyes” | Bridging Cultures, Inspiring Unity, and Celebrating Diversity

“Abre los ojos. Open your eyes.” 

The very first words spoken in Disney’s acclaimed movie Encanto are deceptively simple and deliver what I view as life’s ultimate lesson and gift. More than Abuela beckoning Mirabel to experience the wonder of the magical realm Encanto, these words invite the viewer on a cultural journey, a feast for the eyes, ears and soul.  

Most of my life has been a cultural journey, and to this day I soak in all the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and experiences I can muster.  

I was born in São Paulo, Brazil, to a Ukrainian-American mother and an Ecuadorian father. I grew up in Mexico City. My parents embraced a patchwork of traditions from each of these places, something I continue to do with my husband and two daughters at home outside of Philadelphia. 

My childhood eyes will never forget what a spectacle it is to be in Mexico for Día de Muertos, the streets lined with vendors selling sugar skulls of all sizes and colors, music filling the air. It is a riot of color and culture and a reminder that this is my favorite time of year. 

Moving around the world will teach you a thing or two, but often we don’t need to go far to experience new cultures, appreciate our own or simply connect with someone whose life experience has been completely different from ours.  Last year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme – Celebrando #GrupoAmFamilia: Bridging Cultures, Inspiring Unity, Celebrating Diversity – reminded me to open my eyes to what’s right in front of me within my community. I always find there is something to be gained by doing so. 

I am fortunate that, in many ways, this is also the very basis of my work. After almost 20 years in the insurance industry, last July I joined American Family’s Enterprise Strategy Research team, which provides market and competitive intelligence to help drive informed decision making. As an analyst, I monitor and dive into trends within the industry and beyond. I find it fascinating to analyze the macro and micro factors of our environment. 

Joining the Hispanic/Latinx Business Resource Group has been icing on the cake and opened the door to an instant #AmFamilia. Having moved a lot as a child, I have always felt nomadic in that I thrive in new territory. I can easily find a sense of home and connection, but I also prioritize building community. 
At the end of another favorite Disney Pixar movie, Ratatouille, food critic Anton Ego delivers his final review, “…there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new.* The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.” 

I would argue that the new simply deserves the opportunity to be explored. So, keep your eyes open! You never know where the next door will lead or how it will change you. 


Sharla Floyd_AmFam Blog_Q1 2024_IMAGE


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