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Honoring heritage and culture: From Folklorico dance to USAF Airman

Airman 1st Class Malanie Villa, Buckley Garrison military justice paralegal, poses for a photo on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Villa lived in San Antonio her whole life before joining the military in 2019. While living in San Antonio, she participated in Folklorico dance for 19 years to teach her more about Hispanic culture from various regions of Mexico. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Haley N. Blevins)

Airman 1st Class Malanie Villa, Buckley Garrison military justice paralegal, poses for a photo on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Villa lived in San Antonio her whole life before joining the military in 2019. While living in San Antonio, she participated in Folklorico dance for 19 years to teach her more about Hispanic culture from various regions of Mexico. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Haley N. Blevins)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

This month is National Hispanic Heritage Month. NHHM occurs annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and honors the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latin Americans, and celebrates heritage rooted in all Latin American countries.

During NHHM, Team Buckley honors military justice paralegal, Airman 1st Class Malanie Villa.

Villa lived in San Antonio, a city that is full of Hispanic culture, her whole life.

 “Growing up in San Antonio showed me how big Hispanic culture in that area was,” said Villa. “I call it Little Mexico because of the Fiesta celebration every year.” 

Hispanic heritage was a big part of Villa’s life. To help her learn more about her heritage, her mother encouraged her and her sibling’s to dance. So, from the age of three, she participated in Folklorico dancing.

“Folklorico taught us different dances and culture from various states in Mexico.” 

She danced twice a year at the Arneson River Theatre, performed at two Dallas Cowboy’s games and Fiesta San Antonio, and at a number of weddings and QuinceaƱeras.

While prideful of her city, heritage, and culture, Villa wanted to branch out from her home to experience different cultures around the world.

 “I’m very prideful of where I come from,” said Villa. “San Antonio is a military city, and seeing women in high ranking positions is what motivated me to keep pushing and show my daughter something different.”

Her upbringing in San Antonio, inspired her to join the Air Force in 2019. 

“I wanted to be the first one in my family to break generational cycles of not joining the military and just follow my dreams,” said Villa.

She was the first member of her family to join the military. But even as she left her city, she was reminded to never forget her roots.

 “My grandpa taught me to remember my culture and where I come from, that’s what keeps me going.”

 

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