Thoughts of a first generation
This responsibility of being the one that sets the precedent, the one that becomes the example for all future generations. Is it an honor? or is it an overwhelming responsibility that weighs on you while trying to figure out just exactly, What is it that you are doing..? I know I should not be complaining about my privilege because of how fortunate I am to be able to experience things that I am taking for granted; running water, more than enough food, a job, and access to resources that not being able to achieve my dreams would be because I simply just gave into the fear.
The fear of failing and not becoming the example that I am able to become. The fear that expectations shall not be met and that most of all, that I failed both my mother and grandmother. One thing that I hope that the older generation could understand is that just because we live in the United States does not guarantee prosperity or being able to become rich, and that having a university degree means that I am automatically a professional. No matter how many times I explain that careers take time, dedication, and patience.
I understand that it seems as if I am creating this feeling of responsibility out of nothing just so I can find an excuse to create obstacles in my path, but it is because I understand that there are expectations when it comes to being a first generation. Not that our parents and older family members give us daily lectures about how we are the ones to carry the torch and light the path forward. In reality, as I think, that expectation is like a lingering hope, a hope that their sacrifices will not be in vain and that we as first generations will live a more comfortable and prosperous life than they did.
Every time I think about what drives me and what is the point, (it is not like I have any grandiose dream of living a lavish life, a simple life; where I am happy with kids and my wife and as long as my insatiable thirst for knowledge is still present in me then that is all I need), then I remember. When I told Padrino the date of my graduation and that I wanted him there, a quiet moment had passed and then I see tears slowly running across his cheek as if he were trying to hold them back. I was stunned, then I asked the reason why he is crying and he tells me, “oh my son! You graduating is as if I am graduating because that is what I wanted to do” he sobs again and then he reaches over to me and kisses my forehead, he smiles and tells me how proud he is of me.
That moment will be burned into my memory because that represents my drive for being that example and being the torch that lights the path for the next generation. It is not to make it seems as if they have mountains to climb but rather that we are only but stepping stones for those that come after.
My name is David Alfredo Paulino. I graduated from SUNY Cortland with a international studies major with a concentration in Global Political Systems and my minors are Anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Asia and the Middle East.
I was born in Manhattan, NYC, but I currently live in the Bronx with my Mother, little sister, and Stepfather. Although I was born here most of my fondest memories come from my frequent visits to the Dominican Republic, and always being there. I even stayed there for a year due to my constant going back and forth, I grew to love the atmosphere there and sometimes I yearn for it more than the actual city