Honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month: Gisela Bouvier
We’re honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month at Compass Group from mid-September to mid-October. For Gisela Bouvier, Director of Sales Effectiveness on the Corporate Sales Enablement Team, her Argentinian heritage and growing up multilingual have always been a cause for celebration. Born in Miami, Florida, Gisela shares, “The biggest thing for my parents and grandparents was instilling the importance of learning to speak Spanish and understanding our culture and where we came from.” It led Gisela to become a certified Spanish interpreter and she is now passing her love of languages and ancestral traditions on to her children.
Gisela’s roots in South America run deep. A first-generation American, both sides of her family hail from Argentina. Her mother, who is the youngest of six, immigrated with her family to the United States when she was 14 years old. Her grandmother and great-grandmother are Argentinian.
Gisela’s maternal grandfather emigrated from Greece when he was 19 years old. It was right after World War II when Argentina offered free residency to Europeans. He learned Spanish – a love of languages is in Gisela’s DNA! – and eventually met Gisela’s grandmother. Thirty plus years later, they moved their young family to Miami to pursue other opportunities.
On her paternal side, her father’s entire family is from Argentina. He moved to Miami but missed his country so much, he returned to his hometown of Mendoza, which is in the wine country.
Gisela has favorite customs. “In Argentina, there is a tradition on the 29th of every month of making fresh ñoquis.” Basically, they’re Italian gnocchi – Argentina has a large European influence – which are dumplings made with potatoes, eggs, and flour and rolled into little balls served with tuco or tomato sauce. “A lot of Argentinians also place a dollar bill underneath their plate of gnocchi for good luck and prosperity,” Gisela added. “We do that in our home, too!”
The other Argentinian ritual Gisela “absolutely loves” is sipping mate, which is a Yerba or herb-like tea, enjoyed every afternoon with a cookie or crumpet. “It’s very traditional to have your mate time of day!” Gisela noted.
Gisela became a certified Spanish interpreter when she was a dietitian with Morrison Healthcare in 2011. She has since built a career with Compass and is now on the Corporate Sales Enablement Team. Last January she was one of 17 associates appointed to the Sales Diversity Board, which focuses on education, advocacy, accountability, and creating unity to understand and support each other.
“I’m so grateful for my career,” said Gisela, “I’ve been able to integrate it with my culture and language skills.”
She and her husband, who is Guatemalan and American, have two girls (8 and 2 years old respectively) with a boy on the way! Just as Gisela’s own parents did with her, she is instilling her Hispanic heritage in her children. And because they are second-generation American, it’s more than teaching them where their ancestors and grandparents are from, sharing food and cultural traditions, and learning to speak the Spanish language.
“It’s really about creating community, creating the conversation, and getting to know people for who they are at their core. And you can’t have a healthy relationship at work or in your private life, or have your children learn how to do that if you’re not instilling it.” Brava, Gisela!