Nov 01, 2014

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Life as an Empowered, Ambitious and Bicultural Latina

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Carrying one small suitcase and a load of dreams, my parents immigrated to this country in 1965, from the Dominican Republic. Two years later, they were married and I became their first born child. A middle school dropout, my mother’s first job in this country was in a leather coat factory as a seamstress. My father, college educated, also worked in factories most of his life.

Like many first-generation children, I grew up being my family’s cultural broker, helping them navigate life in America. As young as 12 years old, I used to take my grandmother to her hospital appointments and advocate for her rights as a patient with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). I translated for my parents during parent/teacher conference nights with my teachers. I was the one who called customer services to report a complaint on behalf of my parents who didn’t speak English well. I was well into college and still taking care of my parents in more ways than I can describe.

The older and more Americanized I became, the more I became a cultural bridge to my parents, extended family and neighbors. I was the go-to person for anything American, institutional or in English. Not an easy role to fulfill, especially because it gives children more power than they can truly handle. But despite these major responsibilities, these bicultural experiences transform first-generation individuals into resourceful and empowered people.

Today’s Latina women are cultural chameleons, moving swiftly between the intricacies of our American and Latino cultural worlds.  Click here to continue reading post.

 

Angélica Pérez is an iVoice on iVillage focusing on issues affecting Hispanic women. 

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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Comments

  1. Amazing story Angelica!!! Your an inspiration not just to Latinas but this Latino as well haha!

  2. Great story Angelica…and very well-written I must say. 90% of the things you said, I can relate to. It’s great having women and Latinas to look up to!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] of the realities of being Latino in the U.S. is juggling dual identities.  Bicultural Latinos in the U.S. face unique challenges while straddling borders between greater American culture and [...]

  2. [...] in length on this topic.  During the podcast on Hispanic MPR, Angélica talks about her experience growing up bicultural, translating for her parents and navigating two worlds that influence everything from her parenting [...]

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