Vail Daily column: What led you here?
Editor’s note: Ilse Amateco’s essay, following the theme “Broadening the conversation: How diversity shapes our lives in Western Colorado,” was one of seven winning entries in Colorado Mountain College’s 50th anniversary essay contest, sponsored in conjunction with Colorado Mountain News Media. Each winning essay earned its writer a $500 scholarship to CMC; one recipient received an additional $500 as the college-wide winner.
What led you here? This was one of the most common questions I asked and people asked me when I moved to the Eagle Valley. I shared my story and listened to theirs, realizing how different and yet how alike our motives were to be here. We wanted something different, a new place, different people and a new life experience.
Upon meeting new people, this question almost seemed inevitable. I quickly acknowledged how different we were, from our ethnicities to where we came from and our perspectives of life. We were different people, of course, unique individuals who all shared wanting to experience a different setting and people.
I would smile as I listened to my co-workers and those around me who had moved to the valley tell me with excitement, “Yeah, I recently moved over here, wanted to move someplace new, hotels were hiring with housing and I went for it!”
Listening filled me with life. They were taking an opportunity and seizing it. They were leaving the known for the unknown and excited for what lay ahead for them here. They were risk takers. I was realizing that every one of us, no matter how different we were, we’re really all the same.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting people from different parts of the world, from the United States to Central America, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America here in Western Colorado. I work with people from Mexico, as well as South Americans from Peru and Argentina and Central Americans from Honduras. I felt pride to live in a place where I worked side by side with different people from around the world. It’s amazing the diversity that I have seen here in the valley.
Perhaps my perspective is a bit naive, as I know there’s diversity all around us in different places, but when I moved here to Eagle Valley, I was pleasantly surprised to see faces of many colors looking back at me. That fact alone helped me feel at home. I had a moment of realization of how beautifully diverse we are as a people, and I felt prideful that I could see that diversity in Western Colorado, not only from tourists but those who reside here.
We all start on different paths, and life can change the course of that path in an instant.
I have learned so much from those around me and though we might be very different in race, age and ethnic background, we are all truly the same. Life has led us all to live in this beautiful region, to grow as individuals, embrace the landscape and its people and truly value the diversity that surrounds us.
Ilse Amateco is an Edwards resident.
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