Diego Nájera founder of British Latino Network
Literal Magazine UK met with Diego Nájera, 25, founder of British Latino Network. He opened up on the need for Latin American professional networking, he talks about his BLN team, proud culture and plans for 2020. Diego is a Research and Development Consultant in London. Graduated in Biological Sciences at the Royal Veterinary College, he also completed a master’s degree in Science in Health Policy at Imperial College London.
Building the British Latino Network
Diego Nájera, founded the British Latino Network – also known as BLN- in 2018. It is a professional network that connects Latin American apprentices, college students and undergraduates with professionals in different industries. BLN’s aim is to connect people with mentors to guide them in their chosen careers.
With connections to different university societies across London, such as City of London, University of Surrey and his own Imperial College, BLN is rapidly expanding its network.
“I am very passionate about the different skill sets people can bring which is why building this community is important. Personally, I feel people’s mindset needs to be lifted. We should all do our part in our professional capacities to support and leverage our community. By sharing our life experiences, our career paths and our expertise we can learn and benefit from each other” said Diego. He mentions he did not really see influential British Latin Americans he could aspire to on a professional level, which is one of the reasons why he founded BLN.
“I want BLN to be a network where the growing British Latin American generation can easily acquire first-hand knowledge on their future profession”
The importance of taking on your Latin American culture
The need for British Latino Network stemmed from his personal experiences at secondary school, college and university where he saw a great socio-educational disadvantage, between those who were grammar school educated and had mentors. He joined his university’s Latin American Society with approximately 60 Latin Americans and found the experience invaluable, realizing that an educational gap existed with Latin Americans who were international students and Latin Americans who had grown up in the UK.
“The individuals I came across had come here to study here from Latin America, some were privately educated but the majority were well-read and knowledgeable and interested in many areas. Their Spanish and intellectual conversations made me realize that I needed to improve my Spanish skills and learn about my Latin American culture and politics in both Spanish and English”.
He struggled to find a middle ground so he began to read books history and politics to boost his knowledge. He also watched Latin American news and current affairs to immerse himself in meaningful conversations in Spanish.
“My Ecuadorian side is innate,” said Diego when discussing how he preserves his Ecuadorian culture. The merge of his British culture and his Latin American culture makes him proud as he gets the best of both worlds. With so many Latin Americans in the South London proximity, there is no straying away from his heritage. Whether it’s at home or Elephant and Castle, Diego can enjoy Ecuador’s cuisine or get together with friends and family.
The 1988 Mexican cult movie classic La India Maria Ni De Aquí, Ni De Allá with iconic actress María Elena Velasco comes into the conversation, movies loved by many.
“Having two cultures can be a challenge but I loved watching La India Maria with my family. In the movie Ni De Aquí, Ni De Allá she travels to the US from Mexico to work and earn money for her grandfather. Though it’s a comedy movie, she encountered many challenges and the language barrier that many of us Latin Americans have faced and can relate to. At the end of the movie, her grandfather says, “You are not going to be from there or from here”. It’s the title of the movie and that resonated with me. I know my Ecuadorian culture because of my parents and that’s just who I am ethnically but I am also British because I was brought up here in the UK.”
BLN is a powerful network for British Latinos to exchange resources, knowledge and experiences for those who would like to gain insider knowledge on career options. Literal Magazine UK champions BLN in its vision to empower individuals on an academic and professional level.
Connect and partner with BLN for 2020
BLN launched the British Latino Network Podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, where BLN speaks to a range of people of mainly British Latino heritage from Academia, Business, Sports and Politics about everyday topics and some more niche topics, to inspire and motivate their listeners.
BLN is constantly looking to hear from talented British Latinos who are interested in mentoring the next generation of professionals in the UK. As a mentor, you will have the opportunity to share your knowledge in 1-1 sessions, workshops and other talent building activities. For more information on this email email@example.com with your name, area of expertise (academia, business, sports etc.), and a short profile on why you have what it takes to be a BLN mentor.
Being a part of a network as BLN is an excellent way to gain new insights, new perspectives and ideas that can help you in the first stages of your career. If you would like to gain practical advice, encouragement and support as a mentee, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, your chosen career (academia, business, sports etc.).
The BLN Mentoring Scheme has been extremely well received. BLN aims to partner with universities and societies across the UK to connect Latinos in different fields. If you are a president of a university or college society and would like to hear more about British Latino Network and would like to discuss a partnership please email email@example.com for more information.
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Recently, we had the pleasure to speak to Claudia Adler @clau_adler Founder of @raicesofficial as a guest on the fourth episode of the British Latino Network Podcast. Claudia is of Colombian heritage and was raised in the United Kingdom. She has a degree in Law and a MSc in International Humanitarian Issues and is currently pursuing her PhD. Professionally, she has worked with a range of event portfolios across many industries. Most recently starting her own company @raicesofficial @raicesofficial brings together a community of world leaders from all fields, tackling Issues of social development, inclusive leadership, human rights and women’s rights. To hear about more stories of success and inspiration of people in our community, please subscribe to our podcast and follow the work we do. Our aim is to inspire you and the upcoming generations. As always, you can access and download our podcast episodes on Spotify and Apple Podcasts by searching: @britishlatinonetwork We will be releasing the full conversation on our podcast next week, so please keep on the look out. #BritishLatinoNetwork #BritishLatinoNetworkPodcast #Latinosinlondon #Latinasinlondon #Latinosenlondres