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Latinx Heritage Month: Culturally Travel

Photo by Alex Lomas
In celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, we have invited founders of Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery Jake Prendez and Judy Avitia-Gonzalez to curate a series of profiles and stories to amplify and honor people, businesses, organizations, and projects connected to Seattle’s Latinx community.

Culturally Travel is one of only five programs in the nation that helps noncitizens access travel abroad opportunities. The organization offers Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients the ability to depart and re-enter the U.S. under strict guidelines, a privilege most U.S. citizens may not even think twice about.

In celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, we spoke with Ray Corona, Founding Board Member of Somos Seattle, who founded Culturally Travel.

Why did you start Culturally Travel?

I started Culturally Travel for two reasons.

First, to ease the process for DACA recipients to be able to file for advance parole, as Culturally Travel is an educational program, which is one of the reasons as to why you can file for advance parole.

Advance parole is a permit that you can file with the immigration office here in the U.S. You can file for advance parole in humanitarian, educational and business reasons. All which are determined by the immigration official reviewing your case. There are no clear guidelines, which is why the easiest route to have somebody do advance parole is typically on educational reasons for business.

Second, we started doing trips to Mexico to connect DACA recipients with their families back [home]. We selected Mexico as our first site because 81% of… DACA recipients are from Mexico.

What is one thing you hope the community understands about DACA?

DACA as a program has greatly impacted our immigrant community by providing us with better job opportunities; a work permit that has a ripple effect within the immigrant community.

In addition, being able to file for advanced parole, to travel, allowing people [and their families] to potentially benefit from this experience.

What have you learned from these traveling experiences?

We are connecting our families back to their home country. For me, [it] has been beautiful to see people reconnecting with families that they haven’t seen in decades.

To see young people, who were brought to the U.S. as kids and have no knowledge or exposure to their home countries, [to] go back and experience this life that makes them feel proud about their heritage. With a renewed concept of who they are, of who their family is, and what it means for them to live here in the US. It’s about highlighting parts of our heritage as Latin American people, and as immigrants. About understanding, reconnecting with our family, and being agents [for positive] change.

We are the bridge to our families reconnecting with their loved ones back home.

What is one way community can support Culturally Travel?

[I would] urge people to donate to our scholarship fund for participants who have signed up and are on the process to go on trip, but [haven’t] the full amount [for the program].

Second, to share this opportunity and sponsor their own candidate [if possible].

What does Latinx Month mean to you?

Latinx Month [means] being able to take a moment to appreciate, to learn, to showcase people from Latinx America (from Mexico) in a positive light amidst hatred and negative stereotypes we hear in the media.

In 2024, the program will include experiences in Mexico City, and expand out to Colombia, Spain, Portugal, France, and the United Kingdom.

To donate to the scholarship fund or to directly sponsor a recipient, or to learn more about the program please visit at:

This piece was commissioned by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The opinions expressed and information contained herein do not necessarily reflect the policies, plans, beliefs, conclusions, or ideas of the City of Seattle.