Every Country's History Has Something Of Pride
Meet Ramon Cisneros, Franklin resident, traveler, owner & publisher of Nashville's Spanish language newspaper La Campana, and a member of Franklin Theatre advisory board
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
"I was born and raised in Caracas. When I became 18 years old, the Venezuelan government started a professional workforce development program that enable over 10,000 students to attend universities in many countries around the world. I was lucky enough to be one of them and so I came to the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM).
I cannot tell you what a cultural shock that was both for the locals and for us, too.
Nonetheless, the welcoming nature of Tennesseans and the curiosity for strangers prevailed and in no time we became part of the university habitat.
It was there in Martin, at the chemistry lab to be more specific, that I met my wife Debbie and a few years later we got married in her hometown of Jackson, TN. After graduation we moved to Venezuela where I worked for the oil industry as an environmental engineer. In 1991, as political turmoil began, we decided to come back to America. We initially moved to Franklin since Debbie’s parents lived here, but it was not long before we realized this was indeed the perfect place to establish our new home.
When I came to Franklin, I was impressed by the many landmarks that existed as a permanent reminder of the rich history of this city. History is definitely something communities cannot buy. You can buy a bridge, a museum, you can even buy a monument, but they have little value if they don’t represent the historical event that actually took place there. That’s why I did not hesitate to become a strong supporter of those defending and preserving such precious history and its landmarks.
Because...once it’s gone, it’s gone."
HOW FRANKLIN HAS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS
"Well, I have been here long enough to remember the time when you had to drive all the way to Bell Road if you needed to buy a hammer. Nowadays you can probably walk between Lowes and the Home Depots in Franklin. Not to mention every other major retailer and businesses that has found a home in the city, especially in the Cool Springs area.
There are also a significant number of companies that have fallen in love with Franklin and Williamson County, making it the premier location for their headquarter offices. That has done a lot of good for the city by creating growth, jobs, and a diverse workforce.
Many companies have brought people from India, Latin America, Europe and Asia that have contributed to create this beautiful palette of colors and accents, that I value very much.
Traveling is one of my passions and discovering cultures, languages and the way other nations perform basic day-to-day tasks is fascinating. Having such opportunities right here in our own town is priceless. I had the chance to work very close with Sister Cities of Franklin and Williamson County in their Celebration of Nations Festival where I constantly encouraged people to discover and honor their own heritage. Regardless of where your ancestors came from, every country - through their history - has something of which one can be proud."
A PASSION FOR THE JEWEL OF MAIN STREET
"The Franklin Theatre is something that I have loved since I first heard about it. Years ago, I saw the old cinema struggling to survive and I found it so moving to see how the community came forward to save the theater.
Having become part of the advisory committee of the Franklin Theatre has given me the opportunity not only to learn more about these community heroes, but actually meeting and personally thanking many of them for such a noble deed.
I also believe the theatre should look a lot like the entire community it serves. The entertainment should resemble everyone in terms of age, ethnicity, culture, etc.
When I was first approached about creating a diverse advisory board for The Franklin Theatre, I jumped at it. And it’s so nice to start seeing the demographics of the people that are attending the theatre changing at every show."
A RESOURCE FOR NEWCOMERS
"La Campana (The Bell) is the name of the newspaper that I founded and have led since the turn of this century. Journalism has been a wonderful experience that has offered me a front row seat to every major event that has happened in middle TN during the last 20 years. That to me is a privilege that I don't take for granted.
Being an immigrant is not an easy task especially as it relates to understanding languages and cultures. In La Campana we have strived to inform and educate newcomers about the local culture with the purpose of facilitating their prompt integration into the American way of living.
Having experienced firsthand the difficulties of dealing with language and culture while traveling abroad has reinforced in me the importance of the role that La Campana has played as a communication bridge between Middle TN and its Hispanic Community."
(pictured in the photo above: Ramon and Hélio Castroneves a Brazilian auto racing driver who has won the Indianapolis 500 a record-equalling four times: in 2001, 2002, 2009, and 2021.)