Get to know us!

ursula reynosoUrsula Reynoso

Aquí para Tí / Here for You Clinic Supervisor, Whittier Clinic

I identify myself as a Latina born and race in Peru.

I come from one of the countries with the best culinary qualifications in the world, if not the best. It is tough to choose a single recipe, but if I had to choose my favorite dish it would be the Pastel de Papa (Potato Cake) that my mother prepares.

Being Latina is not only about good food, dancing, and fun. Latin culture is full of wisdom, history, resilience, and healing. When working in the public health area, I consider it extremely important that the population with which one works be known in-depth to provide a genuine quality service, a better people center approach. Knowing our people's religion, traditions, and traumas helps our patients trust us more as an organization. Never assume something, go further, ask but above all, honor the culture of our patients of color.

I think the organization under Jennifer DeCubellis’ leadership, is working toward a better understanding of what it is to work for and with communities of color. However, there is still a lot of open dialogue to have. We need to be comfortable talking about structural, vicarious, and professional racism and our own unconscious bias.

Working at Aquí para Tí / Here for you has allowed me to continue contributing to my community and be responsible for promoting the discussion of the issues mentioned above. When working with underserved populations, there will always be circumstances where you will feel frustration, discouragement, and disappointment as we try to help, but we run into a system that does not do it, and we feel our hands are tied. That is why we must work together to take our voice to higher levels to see substantial changes in the systems that oppress minorities most, such as health, housing, and education.

I really appreciate everything the organization does for our community because, without an organization like Hennepin Healthcare, our people would not have access to clinics like Aquí para Tí. That is why I encourage our leaders to continue the dialogue and involve the professionals who work in the trenches with the Latino community and who know their challenges. Also, hiring more professionals from diverse backgrounds will help patients feel more comfortable receiving their care here and will help transform this organization to model care for minorities.

Javiera Monardez Popelka
Javiera Monardez Popelka

Project Coordinator, Between Us Program

I identify as a cisgender, heterosexual woman, Latina (Chilean). Race for Latin Americans is always hard to know… I think I am a mix of native South Americans and Whites.

Chilean Sopaipillas! Chilean Sopaipillas are savory deep-fried dough (just like the other country’s sopaipillas), but the Chilean version includes squash. It is a tradition in my family (and many other families in Chile) to cook sopaipillas when it's cold and rainy weather. Here I use canned pumpkin, and they turn out pretty good. Sometimes we eat it with Pebre (something similar to Pico de Gallo that only has tomato, garlic, onion, cilantro, and lemon), or sometimes we eat them in a warm sauce made with molasses (“chancaca”), cloves, cinnamon, and orange peel.

Even though all Latinos are put in the same bucket, we are very different. Chileans have always been an isolated country because it is literally at the end of the world. Historically, our interaction with Latin American countries has been mainly reduced to our neighbors in Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia. Therefore, many times we don’t feel the stereotypical Latino culture resonates with us. However, we are Latinos, and we share many historical events that have shaped our values, worldview, and language. I like to think I have native blood. That connects me to the land, but I am probably a mix of many races and cultures. That is what Latin America is: a big mix.

My dad was from the North of Chile, a region that was part of Bolivia less than 150 years ago. I don’t know much about his ancestry, but they were probably Aymara or Quechua (groups of Andino Native Americans) based on their (and my) phenotype. On the other hand, my mom comes from a family that immigrated to South America from the Czech Republic. When I lived in Chile, I never thought about my heritage, but I do all the time now that I live in the US.

Language is always a barrier. Sometimes with friends, we talk about how challenging it is to show all your abilities and entire personality when speaking a different language. I was lucky enough to learn English when I was a teenager, but I was not bilingual growing up, which makes a huge difference. I take longer to write emails; I always want a native speaker to review my documents; I double-check all my work to make sure others understand it. I feel I am expected to speak and write as a native speaker, which is sometimes very hard. Over the nine years that I have been in the US, I’ve learned some implicit cultural cues, however, that is always a work in progress. I still cannot watch Saturday Night Live and understand all the jokes!