I think because of the nature of our current political situation around immigrants, this story matters now more than ever. It's time to share more about my Grandparents, who are a huge inspiration to me, and I really don't talk enough about them. Their story of struggle and victory would blow you over. They are hands down the best people I know.
FIRST, KNOW THIS: We are all ignorant, whiny, lazy losers compared to them, I assure you.
These amazing humans changed their destiny through a strong faith in God, unstoppable tenacity, and a heart of service. Before coming to Guatemala to volunteer, I had a blessed conversation with my Grandparents, Osvaldo and Carmen Iris Enriquez who emigrated from Puerto Rico and made a good life in America.
My Grandpa gave me a GREAT piece of advice that has stuck with me. He said to improve my handle of the language in a new place, I should read their local newspaper every day.
It's super hard. It means humbling yourself and taking it slow. It means getting to know what matters to the people you live among, from their perspective, in their language.
It's how he taught himself English decades ago, as a young man looking for a better life in New York City. Soon to serve our country facing the horrors of Vietnam with a great bravery and strength that demands our honor and respect. He then sacrificed the rest of his working life to service in the Army, even living in Alaska for several years with his wife and children. BTW I'll spare you the stories of the ridiculous racist disrespect he had to put up with... and still has to put up with... I know HE rarely speaks of it and doesn't complain about it...
So today I may struggle to read the paper (even with AP Spanish and Puerto Rican blood pulsing through my brain, this is HARD) but I know that within me is a legacy of victory over challenges like this, and far greater than this. My favorite paper to read is Prensa Libre, because of the quality journalism.
One day I will know this language of Spanish inside and out. I would love nothing more than to honor my heritage, and make the most of the place in the world they worked so hard, and sacrificed so much, to carve out for me.
Get over yourself America. Open your doors. The people you let in are not rapists and terrorists, those are racist lies. They are people like my Grandparents.