Growing UP in Two Countries

Jorge - Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Entered on October 13, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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My roots are embedded in two different worlds.

When I was nine years old, my parents decided to start a whole new life in the United States. The idea of leaving everything I knew behind, especially my family, seemed frightening, but what felt even more overwhelming was the huge adjustment to the language and American culture I was bound to encounter.

I was born in Bogotá, Colombia to a middle class family. Both of my parents were healthy and had graduated from college, and I was had been enrolled in one of the best private school in the country since kindergarten. Nevertheless, the desire for a secure life and economic stability forced us to leave the place where I grew up and risk everything in a foreign land.

Living in the United States was a daily struggle. The language barrier that we had to face every day made it difficult for us to accomplish simple, everyday things. The inability to express myself and communicate with the people around me felt like drowning and it was as if I were watching my days go by through a screen instead of actually being part of them. To adjust to the American lifestyle proved more difficult than just overcoming the language barrier because everything from the food to the school system, from holidays to traditions was a novelty to us.

As time went by, I started to actually become a part of the people and culture. With the help of school and close friends, I learned about the world around me like an infant learns about its surroundings and started to comprehend my new home by learning through my mistakes. Nevertheless, my life in Colombia was still fresh in my mind as memories of my grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends flooded in my mind spontaneously. By being so conflicted, I often found myself crying in bed trying to understand why we had to feel alone and secluded, while life seemed to continue without us in Colombia.

One of the great things about the United States is the diversity of its people. Without a doubt I have been introduced to far more cultures, religions, languages, and races that I would have in Colombia. Its hard to say whether we made the right choice by immigrating since I don’t know how life would have turned out if we had decided no to leave, but I recognize that I have been very fortunate in being able to have the lifestyle I posses because there are so many people who would sacrifice anything to come to the America and fight for a better future for their families.

At the age of seventeen, I am just about to be at that point where I have lived exactly half my life out of my native country. Although a lot of time has passed, my learning about these two distinct cultures is definitely not over. Even now, I am surprised about all the things I still haven’t learned and I am eager to discover more about them because these two countries play a major role in my personality. For that reason, I work hard to keep my roots on both of these worlds alive and strong by keeping my traditions and adopting new ones at the same time.