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5 Crucial Life Lessons I Learned as a Child of an Immigrant.

In 1987, my mother packed a suitcase that contained two pairs of shoes, two pairs of pants, and three shirts. Then, she boarded the first plane she'd ever been on and traveled from Venezuela to America. She was eighteen years old and the first of her twelve siblings to go to the states. Her first job was as a nanny and house cleaner. Twenty years later, she started a business of her own and helped half of her siblings come to America.




My mother is truly the most amazing woman I know. Her faith in God is what she attributes to who she is as a person. And while I agree, I've also noticed how her culture and upbringing have set her apart from others. Here is what I've learned so far as the daughter of an immigrant:


1. Family comes first.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time."

-Proverbs 17:17


Many people in this world will break your heart and steer you wrong. I've found that my Hispanic family has been my support system in my most profound moments of heartbreak. I cannot imagine my life without my family. They have always been there to celebrate the highs of life and sit in the trenches with me when I am in pain, and I love being able to do the same for them. Often, when having so many aunts, uncles, and cousins, I get a lot of unsolicited advice. Still, overwhelming familial support comes with that.


One quote that lives in my brain rent-free is "the covenant of the blood is thicker than the water of the womb." This phrase means those who fight together in battle build a closer bond than that of family. Some friends become part of your family; I see this in my life, and the lives of my family members as best friends have become integrated into the family and treated as one of our own. I love the security, the care, and the love I have in my Venezuelan family and my best friends who have become family. My mother and her Hispanic culture have taught me to cherish the people in my life and remember to put them first.



2. Be the best worker you can be.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." -Colossians 3:23-24


Before I was born, my mother was a single mom to my older brother. She worked three unglamorous jobs just to get by to be able to provide my brother with a comfortable life. After she married my father and gave birth to my twin brother and me, she started her own cleaning business and built a very successful company. As a kid, I'd beg her to take me along so I could earn a few extra dollars. I remember watching her clean and how hard she would work. Her biggest pet peeve was cutting corners, and she would say if you're not going to do a job right and try your best, then don't do it at all. So at 16, when I got my first job working retail, she would constantly remind me of Colossians 3:23-24 (see above) and encouraged me to remember that hard work honors God.


Life has not always been fair to my mother. She's been judged for her accent, skin tone, and simply not being an American. Still, she has never let the prejudiced opinions of others stop her from thinking positively and working hard. For as long as I can remember, she has modeled what hard work looks like to my brothers and me. She has never been one to sit back while others work hard. Instead, she will always be the first to get her hands dirty and rise to the occasion. To this day, she is my biggest inspiration.




3. Treat your elders with respect.

"Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God..." -Leviticus 19:3


Growing up, my cousins and I often talked about how baffling it was to hear how some of our friends would speak to their parents and other people. The more life experience I gain, the more I value respect and respectful communication. But at the same time, I wish I had learned how to speak up for myself sooner. I would have saved myself a lot of heartache and pain if I had stood up to people who tried to take advantage of kindness.


Still, I am thankful for the emphasis respect has on my family culture. Because of it, the younger people in our family value what older members say and appreciate their wise advice. Even if the younger member discides not to take the advice, we understand it comes from a place of concern and love.


4. Stand up for what is right, even when it isn't the "cool" thing to do.

"Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed." -Isaiah 56:1

"Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

-Proverbs 31:9


As a child of an immigrant, I know some of the hardships my mom and her family have faced. As a result, a common trait of many of my family members is a strong sense of justice. My mother has taught me that people deserve to be treated kindly, respectfully, and fairly. Unfortunately, it is often easy to dismiss the feelings and problems of others until you have those same problems. To honestly care about justice is to think critically about events you sometimes can't relate to but can imagine how the more vulnerable person feels. More important still is to take action in advocating for those who need it.





5. Puro Pinta

"One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth."

-Proverbs 13:7


In Venezuela, there is a saying about those who go into debt to keep up the appearances of wealth, "Puro Pinta." My mother also used it to describe and explain what it means to be shallow. Sadly, so many people worldwide feel immense pressure to lie about their financial standing and put up a fake front. The need to "keep up with the Jones" has caused people everywhere to constantly want more instead of being okay and grateful where they are in the moment. I'd argue that the rise of consumerism has caused a surge of disingenuous people who are more concerned with status than real connections and relationships.


As in America, wealth and beauty are significantly admired in Venezuela. Still, for many Hispanic people, including my family members, looks and money will never come before family. In my family, my mother has always emphasized having integrity. While it can be tempting to trade authenticity to fit in better or get more money, it is never worth betraying yourself, betraying the people you love or hurting others.


6. Life is too short not to enjoy living it with loved ones.

"I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God." -Ecclesiastes 3:12-13


My mom and her family do not need a special occasion to celebrate life. So any chance to get together with family turns into a party. Whether we have three family members over or thirty- music is playing, dancing happens naturally, and cooking up a delicious meal to feed everyone is necessary. I am so thankful my mother and my family have shown me what warm hospitality and having a wholesome time is. Something I love about Venezuelan and Latin American culture is the importance of loving life and having a good time. As an adult, I always try to treat anyone who comes to my house as I would my family. There is no better feeling than being warmly welcomed into someone's home. It is also a way to show others God's love by genuinely caring for and serving them. Life is too short not to enjoy it when we can and not show our loved ones how much we appreciate and care for them.



"Life is short. Live passionately and feel happiness." -unknown.


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George Rosado
George Rosado
Mar 28, 2022

Well written and very touching. Well done, young lady. You've made your bloodline proud with this piece! I can't wait for more.

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I love you mi amor!❤️

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