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  • Hi, everyone, my name is Elizabeth,

  • and I work on the trading floor.

  • But I'm still pretty new to it.

  • I graduated from college about a year and a half ago,

  • and to be quite honest,

  • I'm still recovering from the recruiting process

  • I had to go through to get here.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, I don't know about you,

  • but this is the most ridiculous thing

  • that I still remember about the whole process,

  • was asking insecure college students what their biggest passion was.

  • Like, do you expect me to have an answer for that?

  • (Laughter)

  • Of course I did.

  • And to be quite honest,

  • I really showed those recruiters just how passionate I was

  • by telling them all about my early interest in the global economy,

  • which, conveniently, stemmed from the conversations

  • that I would overhear my immigrant parents having

  • about money and the fluctuating value of the Mexican peso.

  • They love a good personal story.

  • But you know what?

  • I lied.

  • (Laughter)

  • And not because the things I said weren't true --

  • I mean, my parents were talking about this stuff.

  • But that's not really why I decided to jump into finance.

  • I just really wanted to pay my rent.

  • (Laughter)

  • And here's the thing.

  • The reality of having to pay my rent and do real adult things

  • is something that we're rarely willing to admit to employers,

  • to others and even to ourselves.

  • I know I wasn't about to tell my recruiters

  • that I was there for the money.

  • And that's because for the most part,

  • we want to see ourselves as idealists

  • and as people who do what they believe in

  • and pursue the things that they find the most exciting.

  • But the reality is

  • very few of us actually have the privilege to do that.

  • Now, I can't speak for everyone,

  • but this is especially true for young immigrant professionals like me.

  • And the reason this is true has something to do with the narratives

  • that society has kept hitting us with

  • in the news, in the workplace

  • and even by those annoyingly self-critical voices in our heads.

  • So what narratives am I referring to?

  • Well, there's two that come to mind when it comes to immigrants.

  • The first is the idea of the immigrant worker.

  • You know, people that come to the US in search of jobs as laborers,

  • or field workers, dish washers.

  • You know, things that we might consider low-wage jobs

  • but the immigrants?

  • That's a good opportunity.

  • The news nowadays has convoluted that whole thing quite a bit.

  • You could say that it's made America's relationship with immigrants complicated.

  • And as immigrant expert George Borjas would have put it,

  • it's kind of like America wanted workers,

  • but then, they got confused when we got people instead.

  • (Laughter)

  • I mean, it's natural that people want to strive

  • to put a roof over their heads and live a normal life, right?

  • So for obvious reasons,

  • this narrative has been driving me a little bit crazy.

  • But it's not the only one.

  • The other narrative that I'm going to talk about

  • is the idea of the superimmigrant.

  • In America, we love to idolize superimmigrants

  • as the ideal symbols of American success.

  • I grew up admiring superimmigrants,

  • because their existence fueled my dreams and it gave me hope.

  • The problem with this narrative is that it also seems to cast a shadow

  • on those that don't succeed

  • or that don't make it in that way, as less than.

  • And for years, I got caught up in the ways

  • in which it seemed to celebrate one type of immigrant

  • while villainizing the other.

  • I mean, were my parents' sacrifices not enough?

  • Was the fact that my dad came home from the metal factory

  • covered in corrosive dust,

  • was that not super?

  • Don't get me wrong,

  • I've internalized both of these narratives to some degree,

  • and in many ways,

  • seeing my heroes succeed, it has pushed me to do the same.

  • But both of these narratives are flawed in the ways

  • in which they dehumanize people if they don't fit within a certain mold

  • or succeed in a certain way.

  • And this really affected my self-image,

  • because I started to question these ideas for who my parents were

  • and who I was,

  • and I started to wonder,

  • "Am I doing enough to protect my family and my community

  • from the injustices that we felt every day?"

  • So why did I choose to "sell out"

  • while watching tragedies unfold right in front of me?

  • Now, it took me a long time to come to terms with my decisions.

  • And I really have to thank the people

  • running the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, or HSF,

  • for validating this process early on.

  • And the way that HSF --

  • an organization that strives to help students achieve higher education

  • through mentorship and scholarships --

  • the way that they helped calm my anxiety,

  • it was by telling me something super familiar.

  • Something that you all probably have heard before

  • in the first few minutes after boarding a flight.

  • In case of an emergency,

  • put your oxygen mask on first before helping those around you.

  • Now I understand that this means different things to different people.

  • But for me, it meant that immigrants couldn't

  • and would never be able to fit into any one narrative,

  • because most of us are actually just traveling along a spectrum,

  • trying to survive.

  • And although there may be people that are further along in life

  • with their oxygen mask on and secured in place,

  • there are undoubtedly going to be others

  • that are still struggling to put theirs on

  • before they can even think about helping those around them.

  • Now, this lesson really hit home for me,

  • because my parents,

  • while they wanted us to be able to take advantage of opportunities

  • in a way that we wouldn't have been able to do so anywhere else --

  • I mean, we were in America,

  • and so as a child, this made me have these crazy, ambitious

  • and elaborate dreams for what my future could look like.

  • But the ways in which the world sees immigrants,

  • it affects more than just the narratives in which they live.

  • It also impacts the ways laws and systems can affect communities,

  • families and individuals.

  • I know this firsthand,

  • because these laws and systems, well, they broke up my family,

  • and they led my parents to return to Mexico.

  • And at 15,

  • my eight-year-old brother and I,

  • we found ourselves alone and without the guidance

  • that our parents had always provided us with.

  • Despite being American citizens,

  • we both felt defeated

  • by what we had always known to be the land of opportunity.

  • Now, in the weeks that followed my parents' return to Mexico,

  • when it became clear that they wouldn't be able to come back,

  • I had to watch as my eight-year-old brother

  • was pulled out of school to be with his family.

  • And during this same time,

  • I wondered if going back

  • would be validating my parents' sacrifices.

  • And so I somehow convinced my parents to let me stay,

  • without being able to guarantee them that I'd find somewhere to live

  • or that I'd be OK.

  • But to this day, I will never forget how hard it was

  • having to say goodbye.

  • And I will never forget how hard it was

  • watching my little brother crumble in their arms

  • as I waved goodbye from the other side of steel grates.

  • Now, it would be naive to credit grit

  • as the sole reason for why I've been able to take advantage

  • of so many opportunities since that day.

  • I mean, I was really lucky, and I want you to know that.

  • Because statistically speaking,

  • students that are homeless or that have unstable living conditions,

  • well, they rarely complete high school.

  • But I do think

  • that it was because my parents had the trust in letting me go

  • that I somehow found the courage and strength

  • to take on opportunities

  • even when I felt unsure or unqualified.

  • Now, there's no denying that there is a cost

  • to living the American dream.

  • You do not have to be

  • an immigrant or the child of immigrants to know that.

  • But I do know that now, today,

  • I am living something close to what my parents saw

  • as their American dream.

  • Because as soon as I graduated from college,

  • I flew my younger brother to the United States to live with me,

  • so that he, too, could pursue his education.

  • Still, I knew that it would be hard flying my little brother back.

  • I knew that it would be hard

  • having to balance the demands and professionalism

  • required of an entry-level job

  • while being responsible for a child with dreams and ambitions of his own.

  • But you can imagine how fun it is to be 24 years old,

  • at the peak of my youth, living in New York,

  • with an angsty teenage roommate who hates doing the dishes.

  • (Laughter)

  • The worst.

  • (Laughter)

  • But when I see my brother learning how to advocate for himself,

  • and when I see him get excited about his classes and school,

  • I do not doubt anything.

  • Because I know that this bizarre,

  • beautiful and privileged life that I now live

  • is the true reason for why I decided to pursue a career

  • that would help me and my family find financial stability.

  • I did not know it back then,

  • but during those eight years that I lived without my family,

  • I had my oxygen mask on and I focused on survival.

  • And during those same eight years,

  • I had to watch helplessly the pain and hurt

  • that it caused my family to be apart.

  • What airlines don't tell you is that putting your oxygen mask on first

  • while seeing those around you struggle --

  • it takes a lot of courage.

  • But being able to have that self-control

  • is sometimes the only way that we are able to help those around us.

  • Now I'm super lucky to be in a place where I can be there for my little brother

  • so that he feels confident and prepared

  • to take on whatever he chooses to do next.

  • But I also know

  • that because I am in this position of privilege,

  • I also have the responsibility

  • to make sure that my community finds spaces where they can find guidance,

  • access and support.

  • I can't claim to know where each and every one of you are

  • on your journey through life,

  • but I do know that our world is one

  • that flourishes when different voices come together.

  • My hope is that you will find the courage

  • to put your oxygen mask on when you need to,

  • and that you will find the strength

  • to help those around you when you can.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Hi, everyone, my name is Elizabeth,

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美國移民故事中缺失了什麼|伊麗莎白-卡馬利洛-古鐵雷斯(Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez)。 (What's missing from the American immigrant narrative | Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez)

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    林宜悉 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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