It's NOVEMBER! The start of the Holiday Season and a month to reflect on everything we're thankful for, connect with our loved ones (in a different way this year!), and cozy up indoors.
This month's story reminds us to be thankful for our history and our family. It's a story of survival that continues today, giving back to those that lifted you up.
My Immigrant story begins when my parents--Jose and Elda Linares--immigrated to the United States from El Salvador in 1982. Both my parents are survivors of the Salvadoran Civil War that didn't end until 1992. Just like many other families, they fled to the U.S. for a better, safer life--to fulfill their American Dream.
A young Elda Linares
As young kids, neither of my parents could afford to attend school. Both my parents were the eldest of their families--Mom as one of 7 and Dad as one of 6. From a young age, both of them began working and providing for their families to help make ends meet.
Working from a young age gave my parents an incredible work ethic, but not being able to attend school made life difficult, especially after immigrating to America. Now in their early 20s, my parents took any jobs they could find without papers and with difficulty speaking English, just trying to stay afloat. My mom became a nanny (with no English skills) for an American family in Los Angeles. She spent about 5 years taking care of 2 beautiful girls. They were the first ones who helped her learn English and taught her about the American culture. To this day, my mom keeps in touch with them!
Elda Linares as a nanny to a Los Angeles family
My father, on the other hand, began working in construction in Los Angeles and has spent over 30 years doing the same line of work. They eventually saved enough money to be able to buy their first home in 2000 and made the move to Nashville with my me and my brother in tow. Buying a home and becoming U.S. Citizens has become one of their biggest accomplishments. It brought a lot of stability to our lives. These accomplishments by my parents gave me and my brother the opportunity to succeed and be the first ones in our family to attend college.
They've worked hard for everything they have and I admire my parents so much. They were able to overcome so many challenges--from war to learning English--yet live a humble and happy life. I work hard for them, and they will forever be my motivation.
Then and now, a photo of Jose and Elda Linares
I'm so thankful for my family's story. I'm so thankful for my parents' hard work. Not every story ends like mine and struggle can continue for generations. But my parents’ hard work brought me to today. Their story of resilience and survival inspires me to do more, to give back to them, and to take advantage of every opportunity I'm given.
I'm happy my family is an example that fulfilled the “American Dream." And what I hope others remember is that oftentimes, immigrants are fighting for survival. It's a hard thing to do and it often takes time. Let's be patient and understanding of others, and have empathy for the different battles we all go through. As said by Efrat Cybulkiewicz, “We are more alike than different. We Are One.”