I came to the United States because my dad was disabled and my grandmother was sick. I had just graduated from college but had the opportunity to come to the Unites States to work for a year to save money to be able to pay for our school in Mexico. But I never went back because I started working at a company where I earned good money. That’s how I was able to help everyone in my family. My life was to work to help them out, and they lived a good life because I was able to send them money every month. First of all, it was very difficult to adapt to the life in U.S. because Mexico is a whole other world.
I miss Mexico a lot, especially because I am from the southern part of Mexico. The majority of the people who live here are from North Mexico, and the culture they bring is very different from that of the people of South Mexico. Living in South Mexico is more about the beaches, the water, dancing salsa and Merengue. It’s a mix of Cuba and Brazil and all those places that have to do with the Tropics. North Mexico is very different, even the food.
My husband has told me that being married to a Latina, he has noticed that we like to maintain family togetherness – we eat together, go out together. In Mexico we have lots of respect for our parents. If your parents tell you to do something you have to do it; if you don’t do it you pay the consequences. Here it is more liberal. That’s what he values about my Mexican culture – that we are united and very family-oriented. He also says that where he works he notices how the Latino community supports each other – things that he doesn’t see in his own culture. The most important thing I teach my kids is respect, not only for family but for everyone.
My family is originally from Nebraska. We’ve been living here in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a long, long time. I’ve never been able to trace my family lineage past the United States. Otilia and I met in Omaha, Nebraska in 2009. We both worked at a meat factory called Omaha Steaks International. We worked in the packaging department. She caught my attention. I sent her a message inviting her to dinner and she said no. Still I persisted; I told her that one day she was going to be my wife. And here we are.
Being with someone with a different heritage has impacted my life a lot. For one, the food is totally different. I love the food. I’ve learned the language. I’ve learned how to dance – the Cha-Cha, the Tango. Also – the music! The Mexican culture for me is a beautiful culture; there’s a lot of love.
It’s been hard dealing with my wife’s immigration process and I care a lot now about the topic of immigration, much more than I ever did before. You see news about immigration on the television, and you hear about it on the radio, or through social media. We have a lot of people who don’t really understand what’s going on. I try to explain to people, I’m on the inside now.
Really, I understand the struggle of this immigration thing. I understand how people who cross from Mexico into the United States feel. They struggle there in Mexico or their home country, and then to get here they have to go through another kind of struggle. They face being sent back or put in jail. All they’re trying to do is to support their families. People just want to live and make a good life for themselves and their families. I mean you have some people who are bad representatives of us. They do things that are negative to cause an impact for the rest, but not everybody’s bad and not everybody deserves to be labeled or categorized as a bad person, or bad Mexican, or whatever. Something needs to be done about immigration reform, and now it’s my struggle too.