I was born in 1973 in Puerto Rico, but my mom actually had already moved to Berks County in 1970 when she was 23 years old and had my oldest brother at the Reading Hospital. However, in January of 1973 while pregnant with me she went to PR to do a real estate transaction, and long behold I was accidentally born on a beautiful island. Fifteen days later I was brought home to Pennsylvania and have lived in Berks County my entire life. And what are the advantages of this you would ask?
As a Latina, I feel I grew up having the best of both worlds. While in the seventies there were not a lot of Latinos living here. I grew up in a household where the Latin culture was the only thing my mom knew having recently arrived from the island. Therefore, while at home, I was spoken to in Spanish, ate all the traditional Spanish foods, and participated in many cultural things brought back from the island like our music, food, and customs. But when I was sent off to school every day, I had to speak English, eat American foods, and learn American history, culture, and traditions. So, as I like to say on any given day, I can crave anything from rice & beans with fried pork chops to the opposite extreme and crave chicken pot pie or shepherd’s pie, it just depends what mood I’m in. I also love our Latino beats, but I love soft rock music, and R & B music as well. Not to mention the fact that I went to school and lived around kids that were white, Latino, Asian, and Black. I love that I grew up in a diverse community as it makes me the person that I am today.
Some may mention some disadvantages like stereotypes, assumptions, & discrimination, etc. but I feel my advantages like opportunities, career, being bilingual, teaching others about my Latin culture, and being super diverse surely out way my losses.
Don’t get me wrong who wouldn’t want to grow up on a beautiful island like my Puerto Rico, but because it’s a commonwealth of the United States I know that I can travel back and forth with ease. However, don’t be fooled by the island’s ocean breeze because here in Berks we are also surrounded by beautiful nature, like lakes and rivers plus we have all four seasons. Even if there are crazy times when you don’t know if you are wearing shorts or a winter outfit it sure keeps things interesting.
As you can see history, culture and traditions are so important. But don’t forget that what we are doing today will be history one day. Make sure the ones we leave behind will be proud of our diverse history.
Rosa Julia Parra
CEO, Palo Magazine