‘Be Proud of Your Roots’

Maru Ayala, president of the Cicero Mexican Cultural Committee

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsUnbridled joy is palpable when President of the Cicero Mexican Cultural Committee Maru Ayala talks about her culture as well as the events put on throughout her 15 years with the Town of Cicero. “I am really fortunate to work alongside an administration that from the very beginning understood the importance of developing programs and events that honored and continues to honor the ever-growing Mexican community. I am very grateful to President Larry Dominick, especially because he knows how important it is for communities to feel represented,” said Ayala.

Ayala has been a member of the Cicero community for over 30 years, arriving with her two young children in tow to reunite with her husband who was already working in the Cicero community. “There was more opportunity for us in this country. Leaving Mexico was a true sacrifice, leaving family, leaving friends, leaving everything behind for uncertainty is truly scary,” said Ayala, who worked as a teacher back in her native Mexico City. “To see how well we have done, to see my husband and I take advantage of every opportunity given to us in this country, to see my children thrive, I know I made the right decision.”

However, Ayala wanted to keep their roots intact and worked diligently to ensure her children never forgot where they came from. “Sometimes we forget, we forget the language, we forget the culture, the traditions, sometimes grandparents or parents don’t know how to pass that down to their children,” said Ayala, who garnered her experience in the entertainment industry via magazines and newspapers as a reporter. “The idea of bringing to life cultural events that would do just that, that would educate, entertain, and foster a sense of pride for the next generations came natural to me. I want communities to know that we are more than just music and food, we are a community of resiliency, of tradition, of diversity…Mexico is such a diverse country and I wanted to share that with everyone by way of festivals and programs,” said Ayala. “In the beginning it was a definitely a challenge to gain sponsors, we obviously started off small. As the community grew, the interest grew. Each year the festivals got bigger, our Mexican Independence Day parade and festival, our Cinco de Mayo festival even are work with teachers and local leaders. We truly built a strong network of people to curate programs that would educate the youth, to keep them off the streets and away from trouble, programs to help them to learn about their roots and to be proud.”

There is no end in sight for Ayala. For over a decade, Ayala has committed herself to developing countless programs in partnership with the Town of Cicero and she looks forward to orchestrating even more in the coming years. “I truly enjoy what I do. I love seeing families come together, I love to see their excitement and I just want the younger generation to know that they always have the support of their families, the Town of Cicero, the multiple programs that we have to stay connected to their roots and be proud to share their culture with everyone.”

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