I’m honored to have participated in the 2017 #WeAllGrow Latina Summit in Long Beach, California, where the 2017 #WeAllGrow Storytellers theme was Dream Big, Princess in partnership with Walt Disney Studios. Like all of us, I have big dreams not only for myself but also for my Latina daughters, and am thrilled to have had the opportunity to dream big alongside hugely talented Latina influencers who believe in the energy of sisterhood and the magic of Disney.
I had the opportunity to attend the #WeAllGrow Latina Summit and visit Disney Studios in Burbank, all-expenses paid, as a guest of Marianna DuBosq, the founder of Bilingual Avenue and one of the six featured Dream Big, Princess Storytellers. I couldn’t be more grateful for the life-changing opportunity to visit Disney Studios, as it was a dream big moment for me as well. Less than a year before setting foot on the Disney Studios lot I started this blog to empower bilingual parents who are working hard to make their children’s dreams come true. To then be sitting in a Disney screening room full of other Latina influencers who are making their dreams come true in a big way- well, it was incredible.
During our Disney Studios visit, our group met with various Disney execs and filmmakers who help to make the Disney magic happen. We started our day by screening the live action version of Beauty and the Beast- and learning from execs about the intentionality behind Belle as a bookish and intelligent Disney princess. The film is perfectly done- giving us new insight to the characters while staying true to the heart of the original Disney story.
After screening the film we were whisked off to the rotunda dining room- an area so exclusive that we actually had some trouble finding it! It was surreal to eat incredible food off of Mickey Mouse plates- and had the chance to meet and talk to Bob Iger! Again, a truly unexpected dream big moment for everyone in our group.
We then headed back to the screening room to meet with Chris Sonnenburg and Benjamin Balistreri, the makers of the new Tangled: Before Ever After series on the Disney Channel. They spoke candidly with us about the series and why it’s so great for boys. The day flew by, and I wish the magic could have lasted forever!
Our Disney magic experience wasn’t over however. On Saturday night the Dream, Big Princess campaign and #WeAllGrow Summit culminated when six amazing Latina storytellers took the stage to inspire each of us to cultivate our inner princess and continue to dream big every day.
The night started with a welcome from the Ana Flores, the Founder and CEO of the #WeAllGrow Latina Network, and one of the people who most inspired me to raise my children to speak Spanish as their first language. I stumbled upon her story of raising bilingual kids, and it gave me the courage not to give up on my dream of raising biliterate children. Meeting Ana was another dream big moment for me.
Disney surprised us with a visit from Olivia Silvas, co-producer of Elena of Avalor and yet another example of what happens when we dream big. We are so excited to have a Latina princess in the mix with Elena, and can’t wait to see where her story continues.
Everyone in the room was inspired after watching the inspiring Dream Big, Princess video which reminds girls everywhere to celebrate who they are and to never give up on their dreams.
Next up were the Storytellers. The six Storytellers for 2017 have diverse backgrounds and careers, but what they all have in common is a big dream that they never gave up on. Each storyteller chose a Disney princess who most represents her, and then powerfully wove her own personal story into that of the princess she was assigned.
My friend Marianna chose princess Ariel, who had the courage to leave her home to discover a new world. Today, she empowers parents of bilingual kids with the absolute best resources and very latest educational research through her award-winning podcast and membership forum. On the Storytellers stage, Marianna took us back to what it felt like as a new immigrant student in the American public education system. Her story was the highlight of the night, and will continue to be an inspiration to every public school teacher who refuses to give up on their immigrant students. Marianna, I will never be able to thank you enough for including me in this once-in-a-lifetime, dream big moment.
Another Storyteller highlight was from Elayna Fernandez, who bared her soul on the stage as she shared how she went from the slums of the Dominican Republic to living in the United States. Today she is a top influencer and founder of The Positive Mom, and parents the daughter duo behind Wholly Art. Elayna, thank you for putting me at ease from the moment I met you. I couldn’t have been more unsure of my place on that bus to Disney Studios, but you made me feel right at home.
Other highlights from the evening included an inspirational (and hilarious) speech from Crafty Chica Kathy Cano-Murillo, the inspiration behind the very first We All Grow Storytellers event. I connected with her deeply from the very beginning of her story when she talked about her absolute love affair with books, which I share. Kathy, you have inspired me to start writing my very first book- thank you for your honesty and humor.
Storytelling is the heart of Disney magic, and it’s an integral part of our Latino culture. The Dream Big, Princess event at the 2017 #WeAllGrow Latina Summit could not have been a more perfect partnership, and I am so thankful to have been invited to participate. When one grows, we all grow, and I can’t wait to watch all of our big dreams continue to come true.
You can watch each of the 2017 Dream Big, Princess Storytellers from the #WeAllGrow Latina Summit on You Tube, rcatch all of the Facebook Live keynote panels from the 2017 conference,on the #WeAllGrow Latina network’s Facebook Page, or sign up to be a Latina Influencer for the network here. Sad you missed the conference? #WeAllGrow is heading to a city near you– the next stop is New York City on June 3, 2017.