Our interviewee is a young woman born in the United States, whose parents are Puerto Rican. They came to this country as teenagers, grew up in Bronx, New York, where they met, married and conceived this young woman, whose vivacious eyes seem to speak for her. Jazmín Lopez defines herself as “Newyorkrican,” a term that is, according to her, used by those whose origins are from the “Island of Enchantment” but who live in New York.
What motivated you to move to Danbury? She replied: “I wanted to live in a quieter place than the Bronx. My parents divorced many years ago and my dad moved here. He told me seven years ago that I could move in with him and his wife, as long as I continued my studies. I’ve always wanted to improve myself and so, from an early age, I decided to study at Henry Abbott Technical School to learn a trade. I wanted to be a nurse but they did not offer nursing. They had hairdressing, something that I liked and knew because it is my stepmother’s profession. So I decided on hairdressing and cosmetology and studied for four years. I finally received my certification and currently am working in this area and also studying to be a nurse.”
These are two very different professions; what do you like about each? She replied, “Being a hairdresser and a cosmetologist is a comfortable and profitable profession that allows me to study. People like to look good. Let’s just say that people never stop investing money in their personal look; plus, they also like to change their image constantly, either with a haircut, tinting or just a hairstyle. The latter is my favorite job because I believe that hairstyles for weddings or gala events are not something anyone can do and, to be honest, I can do it very well. Maybe it is because I take the time to give the best possible finish. As for being a nurse, I always liked biology, and interacting with people, and I have the most important thing, which is being service-oriented and having a good temperament. Helping others is something I saw growing up; my family is very united. Some live here and others in Puerto Rico but, despite this, we are always connected. I love my family because I can count on them. Both my mother and father protect me all the time. They have tried very hard to make me understand that, despite being born here, I am also Boricuan.”
What do you like about Boricuans and what do you like about this country? She happily replied: “Puerto Ricans cannot live without laughing. Their sense of humor fascinates me. Besides, they are joyful in everything they do, in their music and dances. They always find ways to have fun in everything. Puerto Ricans do not know sadness. Every time I visited Puerto Rico, I enjoyed the delicious dishes: mofongo, bacalaitos and even mangoes seemed to have a different flavor. On my first trip, I realized that Puerto Rico is the “Island of Enchantment” because you cannot forget it. It stays in your heart and your love forever. However, I also love my country because my parents met here, I grew up here and I am getting my education here, where I will be able to succeed as a professional.”
What would be your final message be? “A smile can change everything. We must be grateful for what we have and never forget to thank those who reach out to us. Our parents deserve everything because they give us everything without expecting anything in return. I cannot imagine life without them. Who would protect me or love me infinitely? Because of this, it is very important to value them.”
Danniella Maria Gutiérrez-Salem practiced law in Venezuela before going after her own American dream and becoming a writer in the United States. firstname.lastname@example.org.