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An American Adjustment

            In the early 60’s, more than fourteen thousand Cuban children aged between six and eighteen years arrived in the United States. This was a rare travel, where large groups of young children were relocated to a foreign land without the accompaniment of their parents or guardians. Operation Peter Pan, or Pedro Pan, was geared towards protecting children from indoctrination. With a new government led by Fidel Castro, came new rules and laws that were a concern to parents not only in Cuba but also around the world. The education system for instance was altered and became heavily opposed to America. On arrival in the United States, children were placed under foster care, while others were housed by some of the founders of the operation, as they awaited the arrival of their parents and relatives.

            Shy and from a different cultural background, Maria encountered a culture shock and integration difficulties after relocation. Language barrier was another challenge that made life difficult on relocation. Placed in foster care, her new temporary family was wealthy but this did not make life any easier. Her new siblings would often tease her about her background and weird accent as she tried to learn American English. Many are the times when they would imitate her accent and laugh out loud in amusement. Two years later, her parents arrived in the United States and this marked the end of foster care. She still remembers the first sight of them with nostalgia. It was a family reunion  that was sadly never actualized for many other children in the operation. However, life became challenging at first, since her parents could not secure jobs but with the help of friends and the Catholic Welfare Bureau, they managed to survive that difficult period till they found stable jobs.

            That is the story of my mother, which in many ways relate to mine. Born in Cuba and raised in Mexico, I always had a dream of soaring high beyond my imagination. At the age of 19 years, I relocated to the United States. Most immigrants mention language barrier and cultural differences as the main challenge faced. However, in my case, loneliness was one of the major challenges since the Mexican culture is characterized by family togetherness, where family plays a major role in development. In spite of this, I managed to persevere and focus on my education. Being of Hispanic background, there are stereotypes that people from my background are drug dealers, living in extreme poverty and uneducated due to the inability to speak fluent English. While some stereotypes may be true, I had to overcome them. My English was very poor and I therefore decided to improve on it by enrolling on part time classes. I managed to learn the English language in less than three years. It may sound easy for individuals who have been speaking the language all their lives but for people who have adopted English as a second language, it is a bit tricky. My unflinching determination to learn the language enabled me to secure a job in a prestigious Law Firm where I am now developing myself as a Paralegal.

Interestingly, becoming a lawyer was neither a childhood dream nor a dream that unfolded in my youthful years. My desire to become a practicing lawyer was ignited by the significant role and real changes impacted by lawyers at the micro level. I have come to appreciate that though policy makers at the macro level impact the world, policy makers such as lawyers in the micro level assist many people facing diverse challenges. These aspirations were strengthened when I obtained my Major in Political Science and my Minor in International Relations. I now know that my work is able to bring practical and tangible solutions for people and the society as a whole.

            It is almost a decade since I immigrated to the United States, my experience almost being similar to a ‘peter pan’. The course my life has taken has been surprising and unexpected and I am sure beyond any reasonable doubt that this is just the beginning. I am not the kind of person who rests on one’s laurels when the work is done. I am convinced that more knowledge and more experience puts on you more responsibility.  Having obtained a profound legal education, I intend to work with the less privileged in the marginalized communities in Miami, through providing legal assistance and using my personal experience as an inspiration to the despaired and hopeless youngsters.