First Generation Latin American

Nicaragua, 1960's.
Nicaragua, 1960's.

Being a first generation American, my parents spent their early years in a different country, Nicaragua, that's them in the picture above. My sisters and I were born here in the states. My father moved to this country to further his education, he met my mother when he was back in Nicaragua on class break. She was 17 going on 18 and he was 27. It was love at first sight, for my father, my mother had another boyfriend at the time and my father stole her away from him essentially. 

Once he completed school, he went to work in his field. He didn't work as a fruit picker, a bus boy or a waiter, as some happily do. With his education, he was able to make good money in his preferred field of medicine. I have cousins, lots of them, some who had completed their education in their home country and moved here to find jobs, others without an education, who chose to move here for the same reason and made it. Everyone, well the majority, came in legally. 

First generation Americans, or fga's, are Americans with a twist. We see the world with two sets of eyes. If you come to my house for example, you may hear Glass Animals, Grimes or Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, depending which glasses I'm wearing. I've always enjoyed my other culture. While visiting Nicaragua in the early aughts, I looked into the bathroom mirror in Matagalpa and couldn't help and think, "gringa." I wanted to fit in with the Nicaraguans, they are my people after all. 

After slowly speaking Spanish for about ten minutes or so, I can begin to sound genuine. Sure there's some Spanglish there, but I let that room full of native speakers gawk at my accent, they soon adjusted to the well sounding Spanish [I heard in my mind]. FGAs are Americans through and through, born and raised on this soil and who (myself at least) want to connect with our roots. 

My parents are Americans now too, as they're naturalized citizens. Doing so, brought them more advantages living here, such as the right to vote for one. They have American children and a home in the mountainous coffee region in their home land. They know and find humor in our "gringa-ness." My mother and her sisters sound so beautiful in everything they do, the way they greet each other, "hola amorcita linda," the way they dance and they have a natural positive energy that radiates from their aura.

FGAs are mere spectators, visitors to another world. Meeting other fga's (even those foreigners who first came to this country as wee little ones) is like meeting any other American, until you learn they too come equipped with another culture under their belt. Some have fully embraced their second (or first?) culture, I see it in the way Latin female fga's speak Spanish, it sounds "real." Their hips move naturally in a rhythmic motion and they carry themselves with a poise and a grace that I see in my mother. Other Latin, female fga's are like me: a little klutzy, kind of weird, dance really well with a full on buzz (?) and can gravitate towards the dork side. 

My name is a dead giveaway, a co-worker of mine said it best, "with a name like Fabiola, I knew you were a-something." (In my vain mind I took that to mean a star; she did not, she was referring to an ethnicity). Parents of fga's are the real stars. I know what it's like to move from one state to another and that transition was a milestone that shaped and changed me for the better. Anyone moving anywhere new, brings with them hopes, dreams, language, culture and customs that open our eyes to the rest of the world.  

Those new people coming in also bring depth. The U.S. was founded on immigration. Immigrants are what make the free world the diverse, interesting place that it is. This tradition has continued; with my parents, other's parents and those who continue to look to the U.S. as a place where the "American Dream" is possible. They're the type of people we want, motivated individuals that will help keep the country moving forward, progressing and innovating ways to build businesses, support businesses, contribute their art, raise their families and build new lives. They're not lazy.

It did bother me when I heard the Donald say he wants to build walls. It's insulting and rude, people are not animals. Mexico for example, has some of the most interesting cities I've ever been too and the most lovely people. Why not just tighten up the entry system and allow people to come in for the sole purpose of finding a job? Make it a ninety day visa and after ninety days, if they don't find one, they have to go back. If they do find one, they can stay and have the visa extended a year. After a year, they have to show proof they have a job or are in school, if so, they get another extension, etc., etc.

America is the epitome of immigration. First the pilgrims in the 1600's, from there, a slew of immigrants: English, Scottish, German, French, Irish, Italian, Jewish etc. Don't even get me started on the Native Americans. The people of Mexico and any Latinos for that matter, are people just like everybody else. What makes those who want to keep us out, so much better than those who want to come in? Is it because they have a job and money? Don't they remember what it was like to want to have a rewarding career that also pay the bills? 

It's not easy to get into the United States right now and we know very well why people are coming in illegally, so why not fix that problem? I'm all for abiding by the law when it comes to entering the country. There is work for them, I see them working everywhere. The argument that, "they're taking all the jobs of the Americans" is not true. Go to the job boards, there are thousands of unfilled jobs there. Walk into say three or four restaurants and ask the manager for a job, one of them will give it to you.

When I think of my father, my mother, my husband, my cousins, my brother-in-law, my best friends, my son... I wonder what this country would look like now if we had built walls long ago. All the different cultures, races and religions of people would be living in their different silos and not interacting with each other. Would we even have internet? God forbid, then we could actually see one another and worse, interact. Maybe the governments would have blocked the internet to only their country. It would never last.

As a species, we're meant to blend together, as we're all the same, humans who share one world. For those who don't want to share, try building a spaceship instead and find another planet all for yourselves, I hear NASA just discovered a bunch, so you're in luck. In this country, we do mix, whether non-sharers like that or not. Maybe their king will win and build their walls, that will be a battle won for them. I fear for our country if that happens; I fear we would have to start all over, from scratch. 

Fabiola is an American-Nicaraguan-Bostonian-Floridian-New Yorker. 


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