¡NUEVOlution! The Team Behind the Exhibit - Oliver Merino
¡NUEVOlution! Latinos and the New South is just weeks away! We continue to give behind-the-scenes Q&As with the team who put it all together. Discover their roles, what they've learned, what they hope visitors experience and how our most ambitious project to date has influenced their lives.
Next up: Oliver Merino, Latino New South Coordinator
Before you became to the Latino New South Coordinator you were an intern here. What about your personal story and experiences made you a fit for the Museum and this project?
Working on ¡NUEVOlution! has been a very personal experience. I moved to the South in 1999 when I was 10 years old from Guerrero, Mexico. My family and I settled in Monroe, a small town compared to Charlotte; this is where I grew up and the place I consider home. When I think of the Nuevo South, I think of Monroe, N.C. The town is now over 25% Latino. Monroe has a rich history and the Latino community is now helping shape that history as well.
Has working on ¡NUEVOlution! changed your perspective on the South?
The South has changed; it is no longer functioning in a black and white dynamic, and it has become a more multi-cultural place. Working on ¡NUEVOlution! has allowed me to hear different perspectives and understand that change is difficult for everybody, newcomers and receiving community alike.
I believe that we are at a crossroads, the South can either be embracing of this change or reactionary, but one thing is clear, the South is not going back to the way it used to be. Change brings challenges but also countless opportunities and working on ¡NUEVOlution! has allowed me to see that more clearly.
What have you learned during the process of creating ¡NUEVOlution!?
¡NUEVOlution! has allowed me to discover amazing stories, it has given me the opportunity to meet people that are shaping the South every day. It reaffirmed the importance of recognizing each other’s stories and experiences.
What do you want people to understand after going through the exhibit?
I would like them to understand this newest New South and the people that call this place home, whether it’s a long time resident or a new southerner and that each of us carry a strong and important story to tell.
What part of the exhibit are you personally most excited about?
It’s really hard to pick one part of the exhibit but I’m excited for visitors to add their voices to the exhibit in our story kiosk, an interactive touch screen that gives them the opportunity to tell their own story and become part of ¡NUEVOlution!
What events and programs can visitors look forward to attending?
We have so much coming up! First, we would like to invite everyone to the ¡Night of NUEVOlution! on Friday, September 25th where they can get an exclusive preview of the exhibit and dance the night away. We’re also going to have a community day with family activities on Sunday, September 27th.
We want ¡NUEVOlution! to be a catalyst for conversation so we’re going to have programs about policy, education, music, dance and much more, so stay tuned!
About Oliver Merino
A graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, Oliver Merino was born in Guerrero, Mexico but has been living in the South since 1999. He is passionate about social justice and has worked with and advocated for immigrant communities across the country. As Latino New South Coordinator at Levine Museum, he works on developing collaboration with the Latino community and designing programming to reach diverse audiences.
Be sure to check back each week for new stories and insights on ¡NUEVOlution! Latinos and the New South.