My family is from Malta, both my mom and my dad. Malta is this super tiny island in Europe. It’s in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s actually in three islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. My family is from Gozo, which is even smaller than Malta. They came down to New York City about 32 years ago. They came to the United States for better opportunities. My mom is one of seven kids to have left Malta. All my other uncles and aunts are still out there. On my dad’s side, on the other hand, all of them were a little more fortunate and were all able to come out to New York. He was one of five kids. When I was seventeen, I came down to New Orleans with my high school group. I stayed for about a week during February break and came down again at another time with a friend. We organized a trip with about 15 friends to rebuild the Ninth Ward. After I graduated high school, I moved down to the Ninth Ward and lived in a house with seven roommates, slept on air mattress bunk beds. I went back to New York, worked for an eye surgeon, and got accepted to school in New Orleans. I moved out here, originally studying pre-optometry to become an eye doctor, and over time I picked up the camera. It was just a hobby but then I decided to go to school for it, and my hobby became my passion. I’m very, very proud of my heritage. I wear it on my back. I have a tattoo. I’m very proud of where I come from. It definitely plays a large role in my day-to-day life and pushes me every day.
My mom is Mexican and black, and my dad is Filipino. I go back to Mexico about five times a year and every time, I bring something from my culture back home, like something hand made. I feel very connected to that part of my heritage. Right now I am planning a trip to the Philippines to explore that side of my heritage, too. I am gathering all the information from my grandma to see where she grew up. I know little details about where I’m going and her childhood here. Planning this trip means a lot to me because that’s where I came from, it’s the source of my culture and my history. I want it to keep going so my kids and my kid’s kids know where they came from so they don’t say, “she was just from New Orleans, just a Creole girl.” I want them to say, “Well my great-great-grandma was from Spain, my greatest grandma was from Mexico…,” all of it.