"My mom and dad used to say, 'Because you're poor doesn't mean you have to behave in a way that you don't have any manners. Being poor doesn't give you an excuse for not being civilized. There is order and decorum here and you should respect that." - Ed Reyes, LA Council Member, Mexican immigrant, Immigrant Archive Project testimony.
Dr. Eduardo Padron arrived in the U.S. as an unaccompanied refugee at the age of 15. Before leaving Cuba his mother made him promise that he would study and achieve the highest possible degree in America. - "Several times I was tempted to drop out of school, because it was almost impossible to study and work two or three jobs. Getting to school was tough. I had to walk 25 blocks and take two different buses. I had to wake up earlier and sometimes I couldn't get to work. But I had a moral commitment to keep the promise I had made. So when I graduated from High School, I never bought the ring. I always thought if I get that ring I would get comfortable and not feel motivated to continue. I never bought a graduation ring until I received my doctorate. I dedicated that ring to my mother, because she was the inspiration for me to get to that level." - Dr. Eduardo Padron, President, Miami Dade College (the largest institution of higher learning in America with more than 165,000 students), Cuban immigrant, Immigrant Archive Project testimony.
"The advice I most remember receiving from my mother and father was "education". They grew up in Mexico and they went through the sixth grade and that was the extent of their education. And coming to the United States to seek a better life for themselves and their family. The thing they told me the most, that I remember, was education - you've got to get educated. It's going to help you prepare for the things that you are going to be facing. I don't even know how they learned that, not having an education themselves. But they knew how important that was. And it was so important to them. They didn't have high paying jobs, but they put five of us through private schools. And that's just because of the importance they felt education had in the United States. It was going to better them, and better ourselves and provide a better lifestyle and better opportunities." - Jaime Cuenca, Allstate Latino, Mexican immigrant, Immigrant Archive Project
"The majority of my clients are immigrants, like me. Because of that, I understand them and I believe they understand me. The reasons they've immigrated are a little different from mine. The majority come because they need work; they need a future. For me, that wasn't my initial motivation. I was just vacationing and getting to know Chicago. The reasons were different, but in the end we came for the same thing. Once I was more or less established, I had the urge to begin a new life here and start a family and have a future in this country. In the end we came for the same reason. In the end, I identify with the Latino community because that's my heritage. Out of all my clients I believe 80% are Latinos." - Ismael Torres, Allstate Latino, Mexican immigrant, Immigrant Archive Project testimony.
Jaime Cuenca looks back on a valuable lesson he learned from his immigrant parents. "One of the things I learned the most from them was that you know what, yes I was different, yes we were Hispanic, yes we were immigrants. But that wasn't an excuse to not succeed. You should be proud of that and I am very proud to be Hispanic. But it was like, 'You aren't different. You can be as successful as anyone."
Dalgis Castañeda was just 6-years old when she arrived from Cuba. She remembers receiving the following advice from her aunt: "You have a great opportunity. Pretend that you were born today, and take advantage of all the opportunities that will come.' And I'll never forget those words. 'You were born again, take advantage of your opportunities to the fullest." - Dalgis Castañeda, Allstate Latino, Cuban immigrant, Immigrant Archive Project testimony
"I even went through a stage where I wouldn't speak Spanish at home. And my father would get so upset, because they didn't speak English. And I was not allowed to speak English at home. My parents always said that I had to maintain my culture. And they wanted me to learn and maintain my Spanish-language. So I would rebel and I would say, 'No, I'm American. I'm not Cuban and I will only speak English.' So I went through a phase as I recall, but ironically just being part of the family environment….I actually learned as I was growing up to actually feel proud." - Nida Pita, Allstate Latino, Cuban immigrant, Immigrant Archive Project testimony