Mexico City, Mexico
Years to permanent residency
Arrived in the US
Where did you grow up? What are some of your earliest memories?
In Mexico City. My grandparents owned a business where they rented out chairs and tables. When there was a funeral, they would allow the family to borrow the tables and chairs for 9 days. They gave them what they could. I came to the U.S. with those beliefs in my heart. They planted a seed in my heart. A seed to do good for others. They told me: It doesn’t matter if they pay you back. Don’t expect them to give something back. Feel grateful in your heart. Don’t expect a thank you. One day, someone will do the same thing for you.
What do you remember about your journey to the United States?
I arrived when I was 12 years old. I remember the struggle of the language. The language, a new house, and a new family. My mom married a man who identified religiously as Muslim. My native language was Spanish. I could only communicate in two languages that I didn’t know: Arabic at home or English at school. Normally when people go home, they feel comfortable. When I went home, there was my stepbrother and stepsister who spoke Arabic and English. The first day, I cried. I didn’t have any friends at school. They saw me as different at school. I was scared. I had a new family and they didn’t understand me. The first two weeks, I felt so alone. I didn’t know where to go. I used to call my grandmother and I shared how much I missed them, I wanted to come back, and I don’t understand anything.
What did you give up? What did you gain?
Maturity. Opportunity. My kids can go to school, they have a place to sleep, and are healthy. A way to give the world a connection through my business. It’s a way to connect the world to the world. I gave up a house and half of my heart. Being close to my grandparents. They are my role models.
What message would you share with a newly arriving immigrant?
Never give up on your dreams. Focus on your real dream. When obstacles come up, get advice from more than one place. Don’t stay with the first person who closes that first door. Keep going because probably the next door will open with a better opportunity.