One America Voices: Heather Aliano
Author

Written by: Heather Aliano

May 19, 2020

Heather Aliano
Shiloh, Illinois
Communications Director, The One America Movement

Q: You are a military wife who has lived all over the world, constantly meeting new people who come from a variety of backgrounds. How do you think that has impacted your life?

A: My husband has served 19 years in the Air Force. Over the past two decades, I’ve lived in Korea, Germany, and in every region of the country except for the Pacific Northwest. Military families move on average every 2-3 years, and in my book, it’s the best part about military life. I love moving—getting to experience different cultures, try new things, and meet different people is a lot of fun.

I’ve learned that I can be happy anywhere when I know it’s just for a few years. That doesn’t mean I am always happy when I am told where we are moving next (I’ve cried over more than one assignment), but once we get there, I work hard to establish relationships and find something to get excited about.

Moving has taught me to roll with the punches, and to give people the benefit of the doubt. We can choose to arrive in a new location and decide that our new neighbors are too different from us, or that the local culture is too strange, and we can stay in our own safe family bubble, or, we can choose to open our hearts to new people and new experiences. We can always find some sort of common ground to build relationships, and it’s worth it every time.

Our family has picked up recipes, phrases, and traditions from each of our previous assignments. We regularly make schnitzel from our time in Germany. Thanksgiving dinner is forever transformed after experiencing southern food. Sometimes I yell at my kids in German, I’ve mastered the art of saying “bless your heart” when things go wrong, and my husband and I frequent a local Korean restaurant that reminds me of good times.

We may be temporary visitors, but each duty station steals a piece of my heart, and at this point, home is anywhere and everywhere.

Q: You are an author of educational activity books for children. Can you talk about what inspired you to write these books?

A: Moving a lot also has its downsides. We have four children, and we choose early on to homeschool them to provide a little extra stability when we traveled from place to place. I started creating worksheets and resources almost ten years ago to add a little extra fun to their lessons. As I shared them with my friends, I quickly realized there was a need for creative, affordable, easy-to-use resources and started to market them to other parents and educators.

The first book we put out was about Winter Holidays Around the World because we were homesick for Europe and some of our favorite traditions there. We included a lot of history, crafts, and the most delicious recipes we could find. Our family still uses this book each December for “holiday school,” and I hope we keep up the tradition for many years to come.

Creating resources for kids provides me with a creative outlet and gives us something fun to do together on the weekends. They are all self-published, which means I can do everything on my own time without any added pressure. The kids are all going to go back to public school this fall, but as long as they are interested in using the books, I plan to continue creating them!

Q: Prior to joining One America, you did a lot of work in politics. What made you want to change course and join us as our new Communications Director?

A: I love politics. One of my favorite things to do is to sit down with a brand new candidate for office and hear them share their ideas. The candidates I have worked with care deeply for their community and really want to make a difference through good policy. The average American doesn’t often have the chance to sit down with people running for office and see their hearts and intentions. More importantly, the average American doesn’t often get to feel like they are heard, and the people representing them know, understand and care about them.

I think that often, what we see instead is the ugly side of politics—the idea that the only choice we have is black and white, good vs. evil, right vs. wrong—when the reality is that there are many different shades of grey and pathways to accomplish our goals.

This is why I believe all candidates and campaigns should prioritize face-to-face conversations over all other forms of voter outreach. Conversations and stories bring us together, and we can only create results when we have taken the time to find common ground.

As I watch our country change and become more polarized, I know that I want to be engaged with a mission that brings people together. I want to be a part of a national movement and create the biggest impact I can for our country. I choose to work at the One America Movement because healing our divisions and bringing our country together is the most important work I could be doing during this pandemic and election cycle.

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