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Hispanic Heritage in SWFL: Juan Carlos Hómez

Andrea Perdomo
Univision SWFL Executive Producer Juan Carlos Hómez."

 We're now more than halfway through Hispanic Heritage Month, which extends from September 15th through October 15th. So, in honor of those of Hispanic heritage here in Southwest Florida, WGCU is featuring local Latinos from across the region — from all sorts of professions, genders and backgrounds.

Today, you'll hear the story of a man whose career in journalism started in Venezuela but lead him on a journey which brought him to Southwest Florida. 

My name is Juan Carlos Hómez Asturias --and I am using the two last names because that is a great way to remember my mom’s heritage. My mom is from Guatemala and my dad is from Venezuela. I was born in Venezuela. I am very proud to be not only Venezuelan to be Hispanic, Latin and immigrant. Now I am living in the United States. I arrived to this country in 2004.”  

When I left Venezuela, I had the opportunity to work at Venevision which was the biggest network in Venezuela. So I feel I was growing fast in some way as a professional and I decided to leave Venezuela to keep growing not only as a professional, also as a person. In my radar I had Mexico and Spain, not the United States of America.

I made a trip to Guatemala, where my mom is and my grandma used to be alive at that time. When I came back from Guatemala to Venezuela I had to stop in Miami. In that moment, I started thinking: ‘ok, maybe I can stay here to either study or work.’ To study, it was too expensive for me because I am not a resident so you need to pay double the price to do any course here. So, I was not able to do it at that time. And I said ‘well to work here it is also a difficult path, but not impossible, and I will start knocking on the doors and see what happens and if nothing happens, I will go back to my country.’

At some point someone told me ‘well Juan you can go online and see what companies are looking for any opportunity’. I was lucky. When people look at me and say ‘why do you say lucky?  Lucky sounds very random, like you throw the dice.’ But the definition of luck for me is when opportunities and preparation meets.

So I found this opportunity in Iowa, a company was needing a person like me to do some newscasts in Spanish for Univision and I took the opportunity  now I am today in Florida. But when I arrived here, I felt immediately like I am here not as a Venezuelan, I am here as an immigrant, as a Hispanic. And when I work for media, my responsibility is to inform everybody about what is happening for all the cultures. We are at some point educators we are teachers and the media and the role as a journalist allows us to keep taking care of the language so this is one of the biggest responsibilities and biggest goals as a journalist in the United States to use the perfect Spanish to keep passing the Spanish to the future generations.

My wife is Jamie Hoover and we have two children: Alyssa Janelle, she has her great-grandmas’ names and she is almost three years old and we have now a new baby boy, his name is Luis David. They are definitely a perfect mix of us. They show what this country is made of, you know? Immigrants and also people from here.

I feel I have a big challenge right now. Well, not only me, also my wife who speaks Spanish, basic, but she is improving every time more and more. But we feel this fascinating challenge to make them fully bilingual. My hope is that they will feel proud of not only America also they will feel proud to be half Hispanic and also Venezuelans.

When you ask Americans about the Hispanic Heritage they might talk about food. But I think music is unique, and music was something very special in my relation with Jamie. We met in a salsa studio, she is a very good dancer, I can say that. The music is very important because it is full of energy even we have different rhythms. But salsa, I think it’s the best genre, for me, no? And we love dancing and I can picture myself and Jamie when we will turn 70 or 80 years old and we can still dance even if don’t talk Spanish or English, we are gonna be dancing forever.

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.
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