The Silicon Valley Voice

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Julie Flores, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Native Californian and Sunnyvale resident Julie Flores met her best friend online on eBay, through trading Disney Collectibles — the millions of trademarked products related to Disney films. She particularly likes Mickey Mouse.

“He’s a classic. He’s the man, the guy that built the kingdom,” said Flores, who collects Disney pins, lithographs and other ephemera.

Her eBay-born friendship broadened her perspective on life and may have changed her career path. Her friend is from Texas, and they met up in person at Disney World in Florida.

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“She’s Cuban — Cuban born but raised in the U.S, and she’s a world traveler,” said Flores. “Her international experiences and as an immigrant taught me some of the struggles and the richness of not being from here originally. She opened my eyes to a different perspective.”

“I fell in love with the food of her culture; I experienced a Cuban food awakening,” continued Flores, who has an AA Degree in Hospitality Management and Anthropology from Mission College. She is a student worker for the Hospitality Management Program and was photographing the Mission College Kwanzaa celebration for social media.

“Meeting my friend revived my earlier passion for food,” she said. Now, she is considering owning a food truck that features Cuban food.

Flores stays in touch with her eBay friend by phone and the internet. They continue to meet up at Disney events.

“Disney brings me back to my childhood,” said Flores, who used to work for Disney stores. “It allows me to be childlike with permission. It’s wholesome and fun without being threatening.”

One of her favorite Disney movies is the 2002 animated film Lilo and Stitch, set in Hawaii, because “no one gets left behind or forgotten.” Lilo is a Hawaiian girl who adopts and loves an ugly little dog she names Stitch.

Flores explains that the movie is about “ohana” — the Hawaiian concept of family. In ohana, family includes not just close relatives but the wider community.

“That’s how I live my life. My community is my family — my Silicon Valley community, my Mission College community…” said Flores. And also, her eBay community.

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