Latinas go through a very special coming of age celebration that is a compilation of significant events. The celebration consists of a grand mass, elegant attire, and an elaborate fiesta. But what is most important is the appreciation of the life the girls have had and will aspire to experience. The Quince Project decided to help celebrate the coming of age for three girls who learned about their heritage and the cultural significance of a quinceañera, while working together to develop organizational and leadership skills. We call it, The Quince Project, and we’re planning on keeping this project going for years to come. The mission of The Quince Project is to provide young Latinas with the tools they need to succeed as young adults. Our objective is to encourage young Latinas to become leaders in their communities, to foster cultural pride, to pursue higher education, to build life skills, to discover creative ways to express themselves and to develop a strong voice. There were three girls, Danielle …. Esmeralda … and Shaye …., who went through a specific application process where girls were selected based on their leadership, volunteer and academic experience. More specifically, a spot was given to girls who have overcome a substantial challenge in their life or who have a financial hardship.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle and Esmeralda as they were getting ready for their big day. The girls came about the project through friends and family and were encouraged to apply. The girls learned how hard work, management organization and fun helped create a beautiful night for their big day. They both loved fundraising and working together, Danielle stated, “choosing the dress and shoes, and fundraising at Applebee's” was her favorite part about participating. We fundraised through various organizations, Peter Piper, Candle sales, and a pancake breakfast at Applebee’s which was the most hands on fun we had saving up for the big day.
Through their quinceañera planning and journey, the girls did a little soul searching and Esmeralda noted the importance of “transitioning from a young girl to a young adult.” The memories made and treasured from a quinceañera experience are well worth the hard-work and time. These memories were also created through traditions that helped the girls grow and feel closer to their culture. A quinceañera maintains worthwhile traditions that inhibit coming of age appreciations. There is the lighting of the candles where each spark signifies a person who means something special during every year of her life; the changing of little girls shoes to a more womanly pair to express growing up into a mature woman; and there’s also the passing of the doll, where the quinceañera passes on her favorite doll to another young lady who will soon be on her way to maturity.
The girls commented on what growing into a young woman and having a quince all really means, Danielle stated, “(it means) to turn to womanhood and be more mature, and being a role model to other girls.”
Esmeralda said, “It’s not just about more liberty, but having more responsibility for yourself and others." The girls reflected on their journey that created their quinceañera experience and understood that the planning and learning was all worthwhile, Esmeralda stated, “since we are young Latinas in comes with who we are.” She added, "be grateful, because they’re (quinces) expensive.”
The girls also gave advice for families getting ready to have a quince in the near future and both decided that planning ahead is the key effort to attaining a beautiful experience. If anything, the girls wanted more time to plan, organize, and be involved in the process. The girls’ gave advice to all those future quinceañeras, Danielle stated, “Take advantage of every moment.”
Overall, the Quince Project experience was absolutely amazing to say the least. All the help and efforts were done by the amazing volunteers who make up he quince project planning team. There were months of planning, hard work, acting, loving, appreciation, and fun that created an amazing experience for everyone involved. All three girls were so very appreciative, and Esmeralda spoke for all three when she so lovingly stated, “Thank you for making a dream come true and all the hard work you do for nothing in return but to make us smile and have a great day.”