Who am I?

By Gabriela Velazquez

It’s difficult for Latino youth to consider living without cell phones, computers, video games or the latest fashions and fast foods. Yet these are things that many of our parents never had, and some still don’t have, because they spend all they earn on providing for their families.

Latino youth live a very different life and experience in the U.S. when compared to the life their parents had, especially those who spent part of their lives in their native countries. Unlike today’s youth, many of our parents had to work when they were children, and their culture and values were more traditional. Their own parents—our grandparents—were a lot stricter and punishment was hastily given, unlike now when parents are much more lenient when it comes to punishing children.

The level of suffering endured in their native countries led many of our parents to leave behind their home in order to give their families a much better life and future. Yet young people often fail to recognize the great sacrifices made by their parents and even rebel against them when they don’t get everything they want. The reality is that we will not know how hard our parents work for us until we have to work to achieve our own goals

Parents teach us to be ourselves and never forget who we are, just as they have maintained their own identity, although they had to migrate to another country. From the very beginning, parents tell us about our culture, who we are as a people and where we come from. Growing up in this country means we have to adapt to two cultures: our parents’ and the culture of this country. And while there are those young people who continue to celebrate the traditions of their parents, there are many who don’t follow them or even know the meaning of these celebrations. This confusion leads many Latinos to feel out of place in their homes and outside.

Yet knowing the importance and meaning of our culture and identity allows us to recognize who we are and what we must value and keep. It also teaches us to appreciate how little our parents had and how much they give us through their hard work and sacrifices. For all they do, parents deserve our love, respect and help.

By learning to value our culture and traditions from our parents and grandparents, we will know who we are and will be able to pass these on to future generations. Although we are living in a different culture, our own culture continues to be very present in the language, food, religion, family values, celebrations and traditions. These are things that make us who we are. We may change a little because we pick up new things along the way from the culture we currently live in, but some things will never change our identity or who we are.

For reflection

Do you know who you are? Do you feel the tension of living between two cultures? How do you appreciate what your parents do and have done for you? What do you value the most about your parents? 



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