I was born to two parents who chose to emigrate from Peru to the United States. My father came to the United States in 1984 and my mother thereafter. They came here with very little but managed to do with the cards they were dealt. They got through some very tough times and managed to raise a family of four while seemingly living the American Dream: To do everything they can to ensure their children had the opportunities they could not attain elsewhere.
As a child, I had an idea of what my parents had to give up in order for me to grow up in this land of opportunity but I never fully comprehended it. So it was only natural for them to take me to the place where they spent their adolescence when I came of age and could appreciate a trip to a seemingly new world.
We took a two week vacation to Lima, Peru; the birthplace of my parents. Now, if you’ve ever been to a country in South America, you know the horrendous driving habits its inhabitant’s exhibit. I’m talking about five vehicles on a three lane highway, sirens whaling at a constant pace, and people driving all over the roads while cutting off fellow motorists. Carbon Monoxide emissions are sometimes so high that one must cover their nose and mouth while performing the simplest of tasks like walking to the local corner store.
This would have been enough for most people to want to leave immediately after their first hour upon arrival, but not me. I was infatuated with all the chaos and movement of the inner city. It’s almost as if I had stepped into the New York City of South America. You don’t find this sort of commotion living in Florida. This might have been the most impressionable thing one might have seen, but I must say it wasn’t. To me the most notable experience came when I got to see what it was like for my parents growing up.
Perhaps it was the fact that they had went to school in buildings that were as small as one bedroom townhouses. If the small, clustered space wasn’t bad enough, the broken windows and shortage of textbooks for every student didn’t make it any better. Though they did not have access to the luxuries we take advantage of today offered by our school systems, it is ironic that they learned twice as much material then we do today. Ten subjects bombarded students with homework and kept them busy so there was no room to complain about being bored. This is a problem that most of today’s younger generation faces.
Although this boggled my mind, the thing that moved me the most was the fact that my dad had so many friends that he left behind in order to come to the United States. He had enough friends to form two soccer teams and every friendship was genuine. It is the type of friendship that lasts a lifetime. That is something that is hard to find here stateside because people are constantly moving and are so independent, that maintaining a healthy relationship with so many people is difficult.
I am now seventeen, sixteen at the time of the trip, but I must say, that trip has been one of the most impact experiences of my life. One thing I would advise everyone to do before they get old would be to visit the place where it all started. Visit the place where your parents grew up and learn where you came from.
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