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    Naval Station Rota's American Dama: Juliana Wiley

    NAVSTA Rota, Spain’s U.S. Representative for Dama del Rosario

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Lewis | 201002-N-TR141-0141 NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain (Oct. 2, 2020) Juliana Wiley, Naval...... read more read more



    Story by Courtney Pollock 

    Naval Station Rota, Spain

    Juliana Wiley, a senior at Rota DGF High School, was excited when she learned that she had been selected as this year’s dama to represent the U.S. military community during the annual Virgen del Rosario celebrations in Rota, Spain.

    “When my mom and I received the phone call we were bouncing up and down from happiness,” she said. “I felt so grateful and so honored.”

    Wiley being selected as the dama for the U.S. Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota community is a big deal. She would be representing the U.S. military population in a decades-old cross-cultural community event. The Virgen del Rosario is the city of Rota’s patron saint and honorary mayoress. Every October, the city hosts several events to celebrate and honor their patron saint and most of these events include the Virgen’s court of damas.

    Damas are young women from throughout the Rota community who are selected to serve in the Virgen del Rosario’s court. Typically, the damas attend several municipal and social events leading up to the festival events in October as well as throughout the remainder of the year. During the celebration, there is a coronation ceremony, parade, Catholic mass, and solemn religious procession.

    “I wanted to be dama because I want to grow in my Catholic faith, honor the Virgin Mary, and embrace the Spanish tradition and culture,” said Wiley. “It is such a beautiful Spanish tradition and I have only heard great things about the experiences the previous damas have had and did not want to pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

    Similar to years’ past, Wiley began her dama journey with the application, interview, and official designation and letter signing by NAVSTA Rota commanding officer Capt. David Baird in early July. This was where her dama experience took a slightly different turn compared to previous years’ where the meeting was more celebratory.

    “I helped present the topic of having the Fuentebravia gate opened for extra hours,” explained Wiley. “Late on June 30, 2020 our community lost a very special person and an amazing light in our community, Jaden Scrivener, to a car accident on the main Puerto Gate road. This loss truly rocked our community to its core and broke so many hearts, including my own.”

    Wiley, who can’t quite recall the first time she met Jaden because it seemed “we’d always been friends,” understood that with her position of dama came the possibility to make a change.

    The change she and a few friends presented to Baird had developed during a support service with fellow students a few days after Jaden’s passing. During the event, two students, Savannah Matteson and Austyn Martie, had the idea of petitioning to extend the Fuentebravia gate’s hours.
    “Having extended hours would allow people who lived in Puerto, who drive microcars and mopeds, to get home much more safely,” said Wiley. The teens’ concerns with the Puerto gate road is that it is more dangerous for microcars and mopeds since it’s not a residential road that is well-lit and has slower speeds.

    Baird agreed to route the request to see if it was possible to extend the hours of the gate. Ultimately, it was a success and the hours were extended and Wiley was happy to be able to help incite change.

    “I chose to do this because it was important to the community and to myself, and was something that needed to be done,” she said. “I am blessed and so grateful that I have even been put in such a position to be able to make this difference, and am so grateful to Captain Baird who took time to listen, and fought hard on Jaden's behalf to make this work.”

    Since the signing of the letter designating Wiley as the official dama of U.S. Naval Station Rota, Spain, she began attending some of the events through the city of Rota. The first was her introduction to city officials as well as meeting the other damas.

    At her second engagement, Wiley and her fellow damas were presented the dress options for the coronation ceremony and got to vote on the dress design.

    Sadly before more engagements took place, the city of Rota decided to cancel most of the Virgen del Rosario festivities due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    Wiley is disappointed to not be able to participate in the events such as the Three Kings parade, but particularly the coronation ceremony.

    “I was excited to wear the beautiful dress and to see who would be crowned ‘Dama Mayor,’” she said of the large evening event typically held in front of the Castillo de Luna in Rota.

    Wiley will remain busy with her many school and community activities. She is active as a volunteer at RAWLS, a lector during Catholic service, National Honor Society, Peer Mediation and Mentoring Program, and the commanding officer of the school’s NJROTC unit.

    “I also enjoy reading, hanging out with my friends, going to the beach, and to The Point Bible study,” she said.

    While the official municipal events have ended for Rota’s American dama, she does not consider her position over.

    “In the meantime, I will try my best to use my platform as dama to initiate more positive change, be a good role model to others, spread God's love, and to ‘live like Jaden,’” she said.



    Date Taken: 10.08.2020
    Date Posted: 10.08.2020 05:20
    Story ID: 380521
    Location: ES

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