After starring in the 2016 viral music video about self-confidence, “Soy Yo” (which earned over 74 million views on YouTube), eleven year-old Sarai Gonzalez was celebrated by newspapers like The New York Times (who called Sarai ‘a Latina icon’), and famous figures like President Barack Obama and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Sarai has continued to inspire people to be proud of their identities, and has applied her talents to Scholastic’s Sarai series, which she co-authored with award-winning author Monica Brown.
Inspired by Sarai’s Peruvian- and Costa Rican-American heritage, as well as Monica’s Peruvian background, the Sarai book series—available in both English and Spanish—weaves together aspects of Latinx culture, themes of goal-setting, and lessons of supporting others.
Sarai recently celebrated her heritage and book series during a recent family trip to Peru, and has shared some highlights of her trip with Scholastic! Read on to learn more about her trip, where she visited historic Peruvian spots, tried new foods, and spoke to elementary school students on the importance of embracing your uniqueness.
To learn more about the Sarai series (perfect for readers ages 7-10), click here.
A look at Sarai Gonzalez’ trip to Peru
Sarai and her family visited local attractions in Lima, Peru, like El Parque de las Aguas, where each day a movie about the history and culture of Peru is projected onto a waterfall!
One of Sarai’s favorite parts of visiting Peru was eating all the delicious local food. “On this trip I learned that Peru has some of the best food in the world,” Sarai said. “I ate picarones(squash and sweet potato donuts)and a lot of pollo a la brasa(blackened chicken). I also drank a lot of chicha morada (Peruvian purple corn drink) and inca kola (a fruity lemon soft drink).”
Here is a photo of Sarai with her family in the Plaza de las Armas, which is known as the birthplace of the city of Lima.
While in Peru, Sarai visited two Peruvian elementary schools, Colegio Cesar Vellejo and Colegio Cesar Carbonel, where she spoke to students and gave them copies of her books. “Visiting the schools in Peru was an amazing experience,” she said. “The little kids’ faces lit up when they saw all the books I had to give to them. I also really enjoyed being able to tell them my story about being bullied. It made me feel more connected to them.”
Sarai also saw some differences between the schools in Peru and the school she attends back home. “The schools in Peru are different because they have to wear a uniform.” She also realized that the teachers were similar to ones in the United States, because all teachers want what is best for their students. “The teachers were all very kind and helpful,” Sarai said.
This was a special visit for her family, because one of the schools, Colegio Cesar Vellejjo, is where Sarai’s grandfather attended elementary school in the 1950s! “I think it made him feel very proud that his granddaughter, who is a published author, was able to visit his school and give an assembly.”
To learn more about the Sarai series, click here.