I know last time I said I was going to write about my time here in December but … I’ve been reflecting a lot on life, in large part due to the recent political climate we find ourselves in.
One of the things I realized, which I’ve always known but it just hit me in the face a little harder this week was that I am so incredibly lucky. I’ve had everything I’ve ever needed and, more often than not, I’ve had everything I’ve ever I wanted. I’ve always had a roof over my head and I’ve never gone hungry a day in my life. And who do I attribute so much good fortune to? Hands down it’s my parents. When you think about the country where we came from to where we are now I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if we wouldn’t have moved. My parents foresaw the future in Venezuela under a terrible president and decided to uproot their lives and move us to a different country. It’s funny I still remember my first reaction when I heard the news we were moving, I thought we were going to live at Disney!
We left Venezuela at the beginning, when things weren’t bad. Now if you look at the country which I still call mine, because those are my roots and they will always be, there’s no food, no medicine, insecurity and astronomical inflation rates among other things. To say we made the right choice in moving is an understatement. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if we hadn’t moved, would I be spending hours in line trying to buy food rather than sitting in a classroom getting a proper education? It’s likely.
Not only did I get an education, but it was an excellent one at that. I got to study what I’d wanted since I was a little girl, which might have been impossible in Venezuela, with the best cheerleaders in the world, my family. They rooted for me at every step of the way and always pushed me to go above my call of duty. They not only helped me and pushed me in getting a great education, they also went above and beyond in supporting me in my pursuits. I still remember in high school when my parents bought me my first set of dive gear, I was hesitant thinking I would never use it and arguing it was too expensive yet they told me I was going to be a marine biologist, I needed my own gear! Then after high school, my parent’s graduation present was to pay for my divemaster course. I was hesitant thinking, again, I’d never use this or work in the dive industry. I remember them trying to rush me to the dive shop before it closed so I could get the book and start reading (we didn’t make it but we went back). Thanks to them I got to volunteer in Costa Rica, travel abroad in the enchanted isles of the Galapagos, I got to do shark research as my internship, I was in endless clubs, I worked as a dive instructor throughout college, I got to work in Belize and now the Philippines. How fortunate are those things but I take them for granted sometimes. So for all these things I’m eternally grateful. We all carved out our lives in this new country, with my sister now being a police officer (the first female Venezuelan police officer in her department actually) and my brother studying to be an aeronautical engineer (I’ve never met anyone smarter). That’s not to say my siblings and I didn’t also work hard to get where we are, but it would be illogical to think we got here all on our own.
So now that I see what’s happening in the US with these elections: women, immigrants, people of color, Muslims, the LGBT community, environmentalist, all fighting and struggling for these fundamental principles of equality and acceptance I can’t help but join in their fight. I was fortunate, I had it all thanks to my parents but not everyone is that fortunate. So even though I’m in a good place and some of these topics don’t directly affect me I still join ranks with them in their fight. We came to a country were basic liberties like freedom of speech and freedom of religion were a given. A country that at its roots was built by immigrants. And now it seems these basic liberties and rights are getting stripped away little by little, and even though I’m far away and can’t join in these marches I’ll fight the fight through other means. I’ll educate people, I’ll call local representatives, I’ll call senators and do anything in my power to make my voice heard.
Being able to spend time abroad has given me a greater world view, I’ve gotten to see the disproportionate effects climate change has on the poor, I’ve seen how gender roles still play huge roles in other countries and the US, I’ve seen discrimination and I’ve seen people from the LGBT community be put down. All these are real issues and some people think they should take a back seat to the economic woes of the country (which if you’ve lived abroad you’d realize we’re pretty well off). But I disagree human rights take the front seat, if we don’t address how we treat the people that live in the country first we can’t expect people to focus on fixing the economy.
Anyways there were two big points to this blog. The first one is to just express my gratitude to my parents. I know I know I don’t say it enough to them but I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without them. But the second one is to just reflect on the situation that is going on because it has been plaguing my mind nonstop, and it scares me but it doesn’t mean it will defeat us.