Often I read or hear people complain about the influx of illegal immigrants into the United States. At first glance, I disagree with immigrating illegally anywhere. But, on a deeper, individual level, it’s easy for me to comprehend why someone might want to risk all to come to the United States from a country where family life and personal freedom is torn by violence or overwhelming corruption influencing all levels of local and national government. The United States is politically and economically free for now, but perhaps we could benefit from examples of strong Latin American families immigrating to our cities and neighborhoods.
While doing interviews for a Spanish-language radio project some time ago, I learned that it was common for Latinos who succeed in following their dreams in the United States to have lives that are effectively balanced between work and family. I spoke with Spanish speaking Latinos who live in the United States now. They came from Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and other Latin American countries. Some of them had careers in their home country before they left, and some had nothing but a dream and the courage to risk everything. Hector came here not speaking any English, with only $5 in his wallet, and within a few years was selling over $2,000,000 in real estate (mid-1990s dollars). Connie had a talent for singing in her home country, and developed it until she became an internationally known performer living in the Pacific Northwest. Buz grew up as a seasonal farm worker with his family in Texas, and became a millionaire construction company owner as an adult.
These acquaintances, and others with stories that are equally as impressive, have some things in common. Their marriages are strong, their families are an important part of their lives, and they have the faith and determination to follow their dreams. My many native Spanish-speaking friends who simply get by financially from day to day also have strong family values as shown by their actions and family unity. That, to me, is equally impressive. It should be noted here that I also know many native-born United States citizens who work hard, and are happily married with strong families. Nevertheless, as a culture, Latin America seems to provide a healthy balance to the United States.
I mentioned above that I did a Spanish-language radio project in the past. The example below is an interview with a successful family business (tortilla factory) owner named Petra. It illustrates some timeless principles to achieve a healthy family/work balance. It’s best for intermediate level and above. If you have beginning Spanish skills, the language may be too advanced and very fast. If that’s the case, you can still use the captions for understanding the vocabulary, and listen to the slower speed version of the interview (although this may still be too fast for a beginning-level speaker to understand). If you are on the edge of comprehension with the slower speed, I encourage you to listen enough times so that you can understand it without caption help, and then listen to the standard speed version to train your ear to recognize what is being said at a faster rate.