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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

I was called “the American” in PR. Here I am “the Puerto Rican” .

By Antonio Mendez  |   From : Clifton Park, NY  |   School : Shenendehowa H.S.

I was born in Philadelphia in the year 2000. I started kinder-garden there, until one day my dad had an accident and couldn’t work anymore. He retired and with enough money, my parents decided to move to Puerto Rico so my younger brother and I can learn of our culture. I was only 6 years old, and didn’t understand that I wouldn’t see my family or my brothers again for many years.

I was told that it was going to be fun and I was going be happy there. One thing my parents didn’t know about is how bad and behind things are over there. The schools are very behind, and my parents weren’t used to it. They made me move to 6 different schools, not including home schooling. By the time I got to middle school I knew almost everyone in the town.

But my parents thought that the island was very behind, and I could have better. So we sold our beautiful farm and house that I loved so much. It was so green and natural over there. Then the day came, to leave my friends and grandparents.

When I got here I didn’t expect it to be so cold in the summer. It smelled so bad, like smoke and fumes. I’ve been so used to the natural smells of home in the forest that this gave me a headache. It took 3 hours to get from the city to the apartment, That’s how long it takes to get from one side of Puerto Rico to another.

Seeing my first hillbilly has kinda scary, mostly because of the movies I’ve seen that they are the killers or psychos. And believe it or not, the blondes act like the stereotypical blondes from movies. Movies and TV is all that I had to connect me to the States the whole time I was in Puerto Rico. It was how I enhanced my English and what made it easy for me to fit in here.

It wasn’t that hard to fit in here. I probably will never be as happy here compared to how i was in PR, but i feel comfortable. There is a lot difference but it feels the same. I guess I came here with an open mind. Being here will help me with school and getting a better job, meaning more $. But I do miss my home with the singing rooster and the beach with the warm sand.

Being here made me realize who I really am. I was called “the American” in PR and “the Puerto Rican” here. I’ve learned to adapt to either place, without changing what I do and how I act. I am an Puerto Rican born as an American citizen, I am bilingual, I’ve lived in both places and I’m proud to say that I’m both. This is what makes me “me”. I can stand out and fit in in the same time, something that many don’t have the opportunity to do.

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