A Drink With Luisa Bieri de Rios

The Baltimore Sun



Ohio native Luisa Bieri de Rios, 28, is an Open Society Institute Fellow who started the Por la Avenida initiative through Creative Alliance. She has spent the last year interviewing various residents of Highlandtown and combining their stories into a performance called Belongings, which is being presented at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson this Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18, using some of the people themselves and some actors. She lived in Argentina for a while, where she perfected her Spanish and met her husband, Mariano Rios. The couple now resides in Bolton Hill.

How does a girl from Ohio end up being a voice of diversity in Highlandtown?

Well, I'd say I had a very unique upbringing. My parents were very open-minded and instilled in me an interest in travel and other cultures. And I was very fortunate - mostly through studies, through work - to be able to live in Argentina and Italy and the Netherlands.

How did you end up here?

A coincidence. I was here for a conference on international education. ... I was supporting the idea that all Americans should have an opportunity to live in another country, speak another language and learn about the rest of the world. [My husband and I] stayed for a weekend in Baltimore and enjoyed the city. ... And a couple of years later, we decided to give Baltimore a try.

What do you like to do in your down time?

I love international films. I love to go on walks. ... I really enjoy the Gunpowder River. Having dinner with friends.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I don't feel guilty about it, but I love food. I really enjoy good home cooking. I really enjoy having the time to enjoy a meal with all its courses. Something I was amazed about in Italy; how many courses they serve.

Who cooks at home?

We both do.

What's your specialty?

A recipe from my mother. It's a morning crescent roll. Sometimes I prepare a nice brunch with those rolls, and they make me think of my mother.

What are your passions?

Theater and the arts. Poetry. Social justice.

Pet peeves?

When people don't give each other a chance; take the opportunity to really listen and get to know each other instead of making a judgment based on an assumption.

What would people who know you be surprised to learn about you?

They would be surprised that I'm doing this interview. They would know I'm doing it for my passion for what I do. I think they'd be surprised to see me on The Sun's society page. My work is pretty grass-roots and down-and-dirty in Baltimore.

Do you ever get silly?

Yeah. Particularly in Spanish. My sense of humor comes out more [then]. I'm more serious in English. I get silly around my brothers and sisters. I'm one of five.

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