I was born in the U.S. because my parents migrated to the U.S. in 1984 and I was born in Washington D.C. in 1985. My brother, sister and I were raised in Maryland. Our lifestyle was a mixture of both Ecuadorian and American cultures. Early on, I noticed that my family was very different than the average neighboring family. My parents left Ecuador when they were 21 years old, and moved to the U.S. As migrants, my parents faced hardships and barriers unimaginable to me. As luck would have it, the administration passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, and my parents were able to become legal citizens.
We loved Ecuador so much, during the summers we travelled to visit our grandparents. Life was very different in Ecuador. When I was in middle school in Maryland, I experienced some backlash from this bi-cultural life of mine. Certain girls that were Latinas, like me would like to emphasize the fact that I was “trying to be white.” Thankfully, I had an amazing school counselor who advised me that I did not have to meet any type of criteria to be Latina. I took that advice and realized I did not have to prove to anyone who I was.
Prior to graduating my parents sent me on a trip to Europe, which changed my life and I knew I wanted to travel! I bought a one-way ticket to Ecuador with the excuse that I wanted to go to college in Quito. In reality, I just wanted to leave the U.S. and seek adventure. My parents helped with registering me at the Ecuadorian embassy and within a few weeks, I was a dual citizen of Ecuador and the US. I then enrolled into an Ecuadorian university and started my first semester in college.
As many aspects of my life have never gone as planned, I was shocked to learn I was going to have a son at 18. I arrived back to Montgomery County at the beginning of 2004. During those years, I was able to gather more than 12 years of work experience, in corporate America, in non-profit organizations and public schools. I’ve also been able to travel to many countries. The day I graduated with my BA from University of Maryland, the look of approval from my parents’ faces was the moment I had been waiting for my entire adult-life. Today, I am currently living in Quito, Ecuador and I have an Ecuadorian fiancé. Of course, there are moments when I miss the US. I am a humanitarian worker and I provide cultural orientation to help others adapt. I work alongside refugees, providing them training on how their life will be when they are resettled to the United States. This is the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I always wanted to support others by using the knowledge I obtained from being a child of immigrants and growing up in two countries and now I can.
Photo Credit: IOM/Carolina Celi