Dear First Gen,
I told you in my last post about my journey to healing. But some of you may be saying, “Am I allowed to heal? Am I allowed to feel hurt?”
This is something I struggled with for years. And my fellow first gens, I believe you and I have every right to feel hurt, but also every right to seek #healing.
But just as we've battled other #hardships, there will always be others who tell us we have no right to feel hurt.
Some say that if we do not like it here, we should go home. How is that so if we were born here or escaped to #America for refuge? America is our home. We are home!
For more than 30 years I have been living under a veil and recently it was removed from my eyes. My intimate circle is nothing like what I have seen in the news recently. When I hosted a launch party for my blog, the friends who came to support me came from different backgrounds, and I am proud to call them my #circleofinfluence.
When I hear harsh words from people that seek to diminish the value and beauty of multiple races and ethnicities to only leverage their own, it shocks me because when I look at my first gen community, we are so much more than our complexions. What is more alarming is that the hurt and pain we feel from these images and statements are often silenced. We are not given the right to feel hurt, to work through the pain, or to heal. We are told, “If you don't like it, go home.”
Below is a video on my authentic, vulnerable perspective on the topic of #immigrants in America. First gens, this is our home. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. #celebratefirstgen
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She is our final feature in the First Gen Spotlight Series and this person is amazing! Her love for life and books is infectious. She has embraced her culture and overcome fears that resonate with most First Gens.
1. What is your name?
2. What is your current occupation?
Clinical Trials Specialist
3. What is your education background?
Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Notre Dame of Maryland University
Certificate of Clinical Trials Management and Regulatory Compliance from The University of Chicago
4. What is your family background?
My family is originally from Mexico. We migrated to the USA when I was 2 years old.
5. Do you have any "firsts" recognized by your family?
I was the first to go to college and the first to graduate from college within my family.
6. How were you able to achieve them?
It may be a cliché, but I owe everything that I've achieved to my parents. They never let settled for, “No, that's not for me,” “But I am afraid,” or “I'm just not smart enough.” If it weren't for them pushing me to be better, I honestly don't think I would have made it through college.
7. What was your biggest obstacle or challenge to become the first in your family?
I think the biggest obstacle to becoming the first in my family was overcoming the fear of failing. Also realizing that by succeeding I wasn't leaving anyone behind; I was succeeding for all of us.
Dear First Gen,
One of my favorite hobbies is traveling. My brother and I have a friendly competition where if either one of us visits a place before the other, the other sibling works overtime to avoid traveling to that location. (My parents are not fans of our "explorer" spirit.)
I have met several first gens who do not own a passport or have used their passport to only travel to their family's birth country. Yes, it was shocking for me to hear, too! Recently, I returned from a trip and enjoyed the culture, the food, beach and also learned how two languages were simultaneously taught in a classroom and reinforced at home.
For example, my friend and I were in the post office mailing postcards to our friends and family back home. My friend asked the postal worker how to say pen in their language and she responded. Another customer, older woman, joined the conversation and began singing a song that taught her certain words in both languages including the pen. Another customer overheard her and sang along and then the postal worker chimed in and sang along, too. The young postal worker confirmed a decades-old classroom instruction still being taught and had not been forgotten by the two older women.
A fellow first gen has written the guest post below:
As a first-generation law student, I was surprised that so many of my classmates were children of attorneys. Many of them had worked at their parents’ law firms prior to starting law school and they had established connections. I, on the other hand, didn’t have the skills or a single connection to lean on when I entered law school. But I have found that a love for travel is a great way to connect with people.
There are so many reasons to study abroad. You will make friendships that last a lifetime, you will experience a new country as a local, and you will broaden your horizons more than you thought possible.
Your study abroad experience is also something that will enhance your ability to connect with people throughout your life. When you go on interviews or to networking events, many other professionals will have traveled extensively, and your study abroad experience will give you talking points and help you make connections with people who share your passion for traveling.
As excited as I was to study abroad in my second year of law school, I was even more excited to head to the “motherland.” My relatives left Italy in the 1920s, but their traditions remained strong and have influenced my life in many ways. Although I had been to Europe once before, I had never been to Italy.
Dear First Gen,
When we were growing up, my brother and I were reminded consistently that we were expected to perform extremely well in class. One of my friends told me a story of her upbringing that may be familiar to you. When she came home from school and showed her parents her good grades, they would ask, "Did another student receive a better grade than you?" If she said yes, the next question would be, "Why are you not at the top of the class?" My friend is brilliant and skillful! But in her parents eyes, being second, third, or fourth in a huge graduating class was just not “good enough.”
Immigrant parents often have very high expectations for their children, and as First Gens, we work overtime to meet or exceed them. But there is more to it than having the desire...there are situations that sometimes derail us. It is commonly unacceptable among foreigners to acknowledge feelings of guilt, insecurity, and doubt; rather it is expected that you will overcome them and never discuss the difficulties you faced. I can attest that there is a positive side to being raised to always find solutions to each "surface" problem, but what about the inner problems?
Tell me: How have you coped with your emotions when feeling depressed or pressured?