Blog Archives

The Mexican Dog Whisperer

cesarCesar Millan, aka: “The Dog Whisperer” is another immigrant that came to the USA following his dreams. Born in Culiacán, Sinaloa in México, “The Dog Whisperer” crossed the USA border when he was 21 years old. He didn’t know anyone in the USA or even knew how to speak English, but there was no obstacle for him to pursue his dreams.

He grew up in a farm surrounded by wild dogs, and that is how he became intrigued by their behavior and eventually training dogs became his passion. How did he end up in a TV show?

First, he knew that training dogs was what he wanted to do.

Second, he started from the bottom. As an “illegal immigrant”, he started working in a dog grooming store with the most aggressive dogs (yes, “illegal immigrants” get highly paid and competitive jobs!)

Third, he saw the opportunity and took advantage of it. While working as a limousine driver, he came across Jada Pinkett Smith who became one of Millan’s first clients and supporters (she also helped him learn English)

Fourth, he opened the “Dog Psychology Center” in South Los Angeles where he worked with large breed dogs.

Fifth, he became a permanent resident in 2000 and US citizen in 2009.

Sixth, he continued with his passion which ultimately opened the doors to his TV show.

Seventh, despite all the ups and downs of having a “celebrity” status, criticisms, professional/business issues and personal matters; he hasn’t given up doing what he loves which is rehabilitating dogs.

If you have a dream, you have to follow it, and accomplish it. Now, on the other hand, do you still think that “illegal immigrants” take jobs away from “Americans”? Do you still think that “illegal immigrants” do more damage than good to the American society? Cesar Millan, is just another immigrant showing that dreams do come true in the USA.

Photo credit: Cesar Millan wordpress

Open Sundays, 24-7 city of Reno

UntitledWalking along the streets of my city (Reno), specifically Wells Avenue, I noticed a sign that caught my eye. I couldn’t help but to stop and take a picture (left).

The sign reads: “Open Sundays” and underneath it, its Spanish translation: “Abierto los Domingos”.

At first sight, I thought the two different languages displayed in one sign is the reflection of the diverse business environment that Reno offers, particularly along Wells Avenue. That was the obvious part. However, after I got home and begun to write this post; I noticed something else.

“Open Sundays” reminded me of the big change I noticed when I first move to Reno. Growing up in a Catholic country; the majority of people do not work on Sundays. In fact, most of the business are closed on Sundays and holidays (religious and non religious, of course). That was the biggest little change I experience in the biggest little city. Reno is a 24-7 town. Reno doesn’t stop.

Being used to a different pace of life, when I came to Reno, I expected it to be the same. The only change I anticipated was the different language and the weather; however, I was mistaken. I disregarded the change of culture.

There have been several blogs and a lot of heat regarding Reno’s Culture and Reno’s Brand. Some people seem to believe that Reno doesn’t have a culture, but let me  tell you this, they are as wrong as I was.

Many people say that you don’t miss something unless you don’t have it anymore. People that live in Reno won’t miss Reno until they leave town and start living somewhere else, in a different culture, with different people.

Reno is a 24-7 city. Reno is full of diversity and open to diversity. In Reno you find signs in two or more languages. In Reno, you find delicious food and diverse restaurants. Reno is changing, Reno is being reborn . Reno wasn’t the same as it is right now (I am talking about 10 years ago). I have seen the growth and development of Reno. Do people notice it? I don’t know, all I know is that the majority of us do not like change, and when we see things change, we run and despair. I have seen that happened also.

Reno is changing, its people and its residents are changing as well. I am part of the change. I came form a different culture and a different country. I contributed (without noticing it and along with other immigrants and non-immigrants that landed to Reno in the last 10-15 years) to this new emerging culture in Reno.

Casinos are the perfect example of the 24-7 business model in Reno. It is a convenience because sometimes I get hungry in the middle of the night, and I can stop by a casino and get something to eat in one of its restaurants. When I go back to Perú, if I get hungry in the middle of the night, I am out of luck because there is nothing open at that time. At the beginning, when I first move to Reno; it bothered me that casinos and other businesses were open 24-7 and Sundays. Now, I am so used to it  that I miss it when I leave town.

Do you live in Reno? Have you ever been in Reno? If you have, then you know what I am talking about.

A Rainbow of Poems and Numbers in the White House

Richard_Blanco

Few months ago, Richard Blanco became the first Latino, openly gay and youngest fifth poet to receive the honor to read at the inauguration of a United States president. He wrote “One Today,” for the occasion.

As I started researching more about this another successful Hispanic man, I find out that him and I share more than the Latino heritage.

Richard Blanco is a Civil Engineer and a poet. I am a Civil Engineer, and until yesterday’s post “Ode to Cesar Chavez”, I was a dormant poet. I used to write poems in Spanish when I was still living in Peru. I decided to concentrate more in the numbers (as they are universal) so when I came to the USA, I continue my education as an engineer.

I would have never imagine to find another Latino engineer that writes beautiful poetry. Although, I am not as well known poet nor as successful as Richard Blanco; I am aware of the similarities between us.

He has inspired me to start writing poetry again, despite I am an engineer. He has inspire the US to follow our dreams and accept each one of us just the way we are. He is giving us an example to be comfortable with who we are regardless of what other people say or think and regardless were we come from.

On an interview, Blanco expresses that after being the inaugural poet, he felt like he was “finally being home”. His statement reminded me of one of my first posts “Please don’t ask me where I’m from”, and made me realized that I have still not experienced that moment when it is all clear where you belong. What was that moment in your life when you finally realized that you were home?

Photo Credit: Dodge Poetry

Ode to Cesar Chavez

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Today, the world celebrated your 86th birthday.

Today, I write to you in this form for the first time in 17 years.

From the farms to the www,

State Holiday in California, Colorado and Texas.

Many people call your name,

other people “google” your name.

cesar chavez doodle

Cesar Chavez, the man,

Cesar Chavez, the labor leader,

Cesar Chavez, the civil rights activist.

Would you fight for what is right?

Would you die for what is right?

Would you boycott and go on hunger strikes for what is right?

You gave voice to those whose rights got forgotten,

You helped those who thought they had no choice.

From good son, good husband, good father, good man;

A Mexican American that knew what to do

and inspired a movement.

Who would have thought that your birth date today created a controversy?

Is it your legacy?

Is it your name?

Is it that your dream is finally becoming a reality?

Have your voice been heard?

Have your sacrifice gotten rewarded?

Cesar Chavez, your name…

I didn’t know, now I do.

Forever remembered…

In the farms, in the www…

That’s your birthday present.

Happy birthday, Viva Don Cesar Chavez!

I’m sure that wherever you are now,

you are continuing leading the movement for what’s right.

Photo Credit: 1-Cesar Chavez Bio, 2-Google Doodle  

Who is the Nevada Governor?

Brian SandovalWho is Brian Sandoval?

The son of Mexican immigrants, a lawyer with Hispanic roots, a University of Nevada, Reno graduate and a long time Reno resident.

Moreover; he is the first Hispanic candidate elected to statewide office in Nevada and current Nevada Governor that will be remember in history for passing the “online gambling bill” few weeks ago.

He represents the dream come true from many of us immigrants that crossed the US border to get a better life for ourselves and our future generations. He is also the inspiration for many of us that are in our way to making our dreams come true.

I remember when I had the privilege to meet him in person, and I didn’t. It was just another morning and I was walking into the building to start my workday when I saw three men dressed up in suits trying to open the doors to get into the building. The doors were locked (of course, for security purposes) and they can only be opened from the inside or from the outside with an employee ID badge.

From the distance, I couldn’t see who these three men were; however, I assumed that they were people who were invited for a meeting and they needed to get in. As I got  closer, I didn’t bother to look at them because I was more focused on getting my ID from  my purse and open the door for them. After making a funny remark about how secure our building was and how lucky they were that I was just there at the right time, I opened the doors and I finally looked at their faces…surprised! It was the Nevada Governor…It was the first Hispanic Governor…It was Brian Sandoval!

I was in shock because I didn’t expect it to be him, so I went on quiet mode. He held the door for me to get in the building first (like a good gentleman) and he thanked me  for letting him in. I couldn’t say a word! I hope I was able to say “you are welcome”, but the truth is that I don’t remember. I wish I could have said how well he is doing for himself and for the Hispanic community in the USA; I wish I could have told him that he is becoming the dream of many immigrants and that he is an inspiration for many of us too. I wish I could have told him not to forget his Latino heritage….I wish I could have talked!

I am positive he is aware of everything I wanted to tell him and I couldn’t. What did I learn from this experience? Many things; first, that I gotta be ready for the unexpected. Second, that I have to be more confident and be able to take advantage of the opportunities that life presents to me; and third, that Brian Sandoval is a gentleman and a very approachable person.

Do you have any stories (like my story with the Governor) that you would like to share? What did you learn from them?

 

Photo credit: Brian Sandoval.com

Breaking my first name…”Maria”

UntitledYou all know me by “Maria”.

That’s my first name and it’s been the name I’ve been called for almost 15 years since I came to the USA.  However; for the first 18 years of my life that I lived in Peru, my name was “Rocio” (Rosie-o).

It was a difficult transition for me to get used to being called “Maria”, and at times, I didn’t respond to it. I felt like it wasn’t my name. I didn’t feel like myself. That name wasn’t me.

When I came to the USA, learning the language and the culture weren’t the only challenges. Becoming myself, was the biggest challenge. For a long time, I used to feel like there was a gap between “Maria” and “Rocio”. They were two different people. I was “Rocio” and not “Maria”.

It took over a decade for “Rocio” to become “Maria”, and now I can proudly say that I am both. Unless you are an immigrant with two names, you probably don’t understand what I am talking about. Having two names, two countries, two languages, two cultures; that is the reality for many immigrants that come to the USA. It is difficult to fully integrate, and it takes time. Once this integration occurs internally, it will be externalized by the immigrants becoming who they really are and achieving what they came for to America.

What’s in a name? What’s in your name? I shared my story from an immigrant perspective. I would love to hear yours.

What would you do…for a Dream?

SmuggledMany people do the unthinkable, the unexpected. Many people even die in the odyssey to conquer their dreams.

We have heard stories of what many immigrants do in order to accomplish the “American Dream”.

Several of these stories are heartbreaking and they make you wonder why do some people are so desperate to cross the border and remind here illegally. Are these stories real? Yes they are.

Immigrants, specially the ones that come from south of the border, do the unimaginable to come to the USA. That is what Ramon Hamilton, a Dominican-American actor and director, documented in his 2012 film “Smuggled”

In my opinion, “extreme circumstances call for extreme measures”. I can only imagine what the situation is for those people on the other side of the border in order for them to risk their lives to come to the USA.

My situation was different, and probably I would not be willing to do and suffer what many immigrants do just to cross the border and change their lives looking for the “American Dream”. However, I feel extremely proud and honored to belong to this group of people who are willing to do anything for a better life, I am a Hispanic immigrant in the USA. I feel that we, the immigrants, have the duty to make things happen  in memory of those that lost the battle while fighting for their dreams. We are their legacy, we are their aspiration.

My dream is that one day, instead of immigrants being seen as a plague or a bad disease that happened to this country, we will be seen as the main contributors to this country’s development and success. I believe that we are on our way to make that a reality.

Some people are willing to do whatever it takes in order to accomplish their dreams. What would you be willing to do for a dream?

Photo credit: NBC Latino

Dreams Are Real

 DREAL : Dreams Are Real from Maribel Serrano on Vimeo.

[vimeo 56403953 w=500 h=281]DREAL : Dreams Are Real from Maribel Serrano on Vimeo

Are dreams real? I believe so. Afterall; many of us are following our dreams either by pursuing higher education or a business venture. How much effort would you invest in order to achieve a dream?

I came across a story in the @latinocal which is a news article from Los Angeles, California (sorry the articles are in Spanish). The article’s name is “DREAL: Dreams are Real”. After reading it and watching the movie, I was inspired and reaffirmed that no matter how hard it may seem, or how unreachable a goal may be…when there is will, there is a way.

Chatting with one of my friends this weekend, I expressed my convictions about dreams and how people overcome adversity and achieve their dreams. My friend attempted to shattered my passionate beliefs about achievement of dreams. He sais that dreams are not real, and that people have to give up dreams in order to survive and meet everyday’s responsibilities. He is a very successful business man from Los Angeles area. He is hispanic.

I got very disappointed with his statements. I could not believe what I was hearing. His parents migrated from Latin America to the US in the 70’s and he was born here (second generation Hispanics). He attended college and by first impression; he is living the “American Dream”. However, his deep reality, is different.

I asked him what his dream was, and he told me that “he wanted to be an artist”. Then I asked him why he is not following his dream, and he sadly told me that “he has a family to support and being an artist do not pay the bills”.

I felt really sad for him. He doesn’t even look like the artist type to me, and if I wouldn’t have had this conversation with him, I would have never guessed his situation.

This conversation made me realized that many times success is measured by what other people can see/perceive; however, success is deeper than that. There is more to making dreams come true. First, you got to believe that dreams are real, just like Maribel Serrano’s DREAL. Second, you got to count your blessings and do the best with what you have. Maribel and many other Hispanic immigrants do not have the privileges of being legally admitted in this country. My friend has those privileges, but he has given up on his dreams (of being an artist). Third, you got to fight for those dreams until they become your reality. Maribel is fighting for her dream. She wants to become succesful and being able to work in the US. She is not alone in this dream. There are about 1.5 million of DREAMERS in the US, young people like Maribel that would benefit if the “Dream Act” passes and allows these young people to better themselves in our country.

Dreams are real. Follow Maribel and the DREAMER’s example and fight for your dreams, whatever they are. Don’t become a succesful business man with the broken wings of an artist. Nothing is impossible…sometimes it takes a little effort.

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