Immigration has always been a topic close to my heart. My grandparents worked hard to immigrate to the US and then later brought their children. My parents grew up in Rhode Island, where they met and got married. The fact that they lived in the same neighborhood back in Santiago, Dominican Republic only makes the story of how they met even more adorable!
Growing up in a household where I heard stories of my parents’ lives back in the Dominican Republic not only instilled in me pride and love for my country, but also a respect for the American Dream. My grandparents wanted a better life for their kids and future generations and they were able to achieve that through hard work and sacrifice.
This was no easy feat, as both of my parents come from large families. They’re both one out of eight siblings. My parents both worked two jobs while in college as well as during their graduate education so they could continue to raise me throughout their education. They pushed forward even though it was difficult because they knew it’d be worth it. This work ethic has been something I have strived to live up to since I was very little. I may not need to struggle as much as my parents and grandparents, but the very least I can do as a “thank you” is to push myself so I don't waste the opportunities they sacrificed to give me.
Pride in my country is another virtue my family instilled within me. I have much love for my culture, country and its people. I’m proud to be a part of a beautiful island in the Caribbean with some of the most loving people I’ve ever met and the best tasting food on the planet! Celebrating our culture is something that bonds my family together and allows us to feel connected to something larger, even when we’re far away from our roots.
Immigrants bring their own flavor to the table. The celebration of our culture reinforces our identity and validates our uniqueness in this melting pot of a country. I am very blessed to have friends from all kinds of cultures, religions and ethnicities and it’s made me realize that while we may have differences, they’re to be celebrated and explored, not attacked or invalidated. Take time to know people who come from different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. There’s a lot we can learn from each other and we all can contribute something different to each other's lives.
Wesley Rodriguez-Diep is a sophomore studying international relations.