Last week we attended our nephew's high school graduation in Cali, Colombia. The celebration, from morning to night, highlighted the many traditions Latins in the U.S. and our parent countries have in common. But, boy, did it ever highlight the differences as well.  

Now that I have my own kids, I constantly contrast and compare my native Colombia--which we visit yearly--and Miami, where we currently live. It may be the most Latin city in the U.S., but rest assured, there's still an ocean between us. 

Which brings us back to the graduation. It started at 9 a.m. There was a beautiful, moving, heartfelt ceremony. Then it was off to my sister's for lunch. Oh, there just happened to be live music and some 60 guests who managed to drink and eat and party until...goodness! Is it 8 p.m. already?

Time for the prom! This year, for the first time ever, parents and guests were invited to the senior prom. So there we were, in adjacent tables with groups of teens who were drinking (the legal drinking age in Colombia is 18) and dancing salsa, merengue and reggaetón like pros. My daughter couldn't get over how fun this all was compared to boring Miami parties.

I can just picture the frowns of disapproval at the thought of teens drinking, even when legal.  But  if your kids are going to drink (you DO know they manage to drink at parties and proms even when underage, right?) wouldn't you rather be in the same room with them? I would.

Like many fellow Latinas, I didn't have my first drinks at a college dorm or sneaking around in some party. I had my first drink over dinner, with my parents. For me, drinking isn't about getting wasted but having fun with friends and family.

Coming full circle in the same city and the same place where I celebrated my senior prom, made me marvel at how little has changed. And how different, in many ways, that life is from our life in the U.S., no matter how Latin we try to make it.  

Image via cayobo/flickr

About the author

Leila Cobo is a novelist, pianist, TV host and executive Editor for Latin Content at Billboard. She is mom to Allegra, 16, and Arthur, 13. Her new novel, The Second Time We Met, is out on Grand Central. Visit www.leilacobo.com to learn more. 

 



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rvasq...

I know how you feel , I live on a border town and my family was in Mexico therefore as soon as I turned 18 we had partys till 6 or 7 in the morning all in good humor... It was the best unfortunately things have changed because of violence but we still go every now and then and we have way more fun than overhere...

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