Thursday, July 6, 2017

Celebrating 50 years of living in the USA

Happy Birthday America!

In celebration of our country's birthday and the 50th anniversary of my family coming to America, I wanted to follow up on last months newsletter on 'Change' and share my family's story.

On June 17th I posted a picture on Facebook of our family taken by the Rock Hill Herald upon our arrival to the United States. I received so many questions and comments that I decided to share my story with all of you. I know this is not design related but it will give an indication of where I came from
My dad studied at the University of Illinois and graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 1957. After finishing his studies he went back to Colombia, married my mother and started a family. He worked in Colombia for several years and knew he wanted to eventually work in the states. When an opportunity to interview for a position with Bowaters Paper Mill in Lancaster was presented. He flew to SC, interviewed for the position, was offered a job and immediately took it.
Over the course of the next 12 years we moved quite a bit until finally settling in Charlotte in 1978.
My family moved to Rock Hill, SC in 1967 leaving behind their family and friends, their language and their culture.  They were the first in their families to move away.  My mother spoke absolutely NO English and came to the states with five young children and expecting number six. Needless to say we were an anomaly in Rock Hill, with such a large family and speaking a different language. I can't even begin to imagine the challenges and heart aches they faced. 

The people of Rock Hill embraced our family and were so accommodating and helpful to all of us especially to my mom as she adjusted to her new life. Neighbors helping her learn a new  language and a new way of living. The sisters at St. Annes school providing transportation for us kids and my dads colleagues providing support to all of us.
Fortunately, a few of us kids knew English as we had studied in an American school in Cali.
We grew up in two worlds; American by day (at school) and Colombian after 3pm (at home). This was not always easy as we got older but somehow it worked.
I admire my parents courage to leave their family and friends in search of better opportunities. They instilled a love of family and culture in all of us and we have maintained strong family ties in Colombia throughout our lives. I am so fortunate to have been exposed to two cultures, two languages and two countries I love.

So as you think about change regardless of how it applies to you, let me leave you with a quote from Nelson Mandela
"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears"

Plaza family 1967 featured in the Rock Hill Herald

              Celebrating my dad's 80th birthday in 2015. He is dressed in a traditional Colombian garb.

Happy Birthday America!

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