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Paciencia y Fe This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

“You hear that music in the air? Take the train to the top of the world, and I’m there, I’m home!” Just this past summer I was fortunate to see the award-winning Broadway Show, In the Heights. It’s a very contemporary, modern day view of the Latino Community in Washington Heights, New York. The show gives the audience what it is like to be a first/second generation emigrant and the struggles met every day.

No where in my wildest dreams did I ever think this would hit so close to home. Even though I am not from the islands, I know what it feels like to be different, and the constant struggle to not forget who I am. After the show I realized that these characters live on every single penny they earn, but are the happiest people I’ve seen. Yet, no matter what happens they’ll always have pride of their home country.

For years, I tried to be an “All-American Girl”, trying to fit in or make a place for myself; most of all trying to erase my identity. Just the opposite right? In these past few years, trying to be a “regular” teenager was enlisting for conformity. You might think, oh sure, she’s just another teen seeking independence. No, In the Heights gave me courage to “wave this flag that I got in my hand” high and proud.

Growing up, it was hard to see such a disposition. No one really seems to care about heritage or tradition anymore. It’s never been that simple for me. And as I’m about to go out on my own I have to make choices to change this empty feeling.

You may wonder… what is she talking about? All my life I’ve been stereotyped as an Asian, sometimes I don’t try to prove them wrong. Telling everyone that you’re Yup’ik, or “Eskimo”, sets in line a whole list of questions. No, my parents aren’t Yup’ik. Yes, I am adopted. No, I was never in an orphanage. The list goes on and on, but the thing that bothers me most is they don’t understand how hard it is for a mother of fifteen to give up her daughter because she was raped. It’s just not a truth I’m willing to share with everyone. For my whole life she not once spoke or written to me because she is so ashamed. And I’m supposed to share on top of all that, that I am just another white washed minority? It’s not okay.

I was born to this, to challenge my strength, and to show the world that I can survive. For one day I will learn of my culture, because something such as that is important to me. I don’t want to live in an ever-changing world just like everyone else, and to forget the most precious thing anyone can ever know. I value my heritage, and I couldn’t be more elated to where my life is leading me.

Ending this year, I’m not upset or mad anymore. I’m putting my past behind me and preparing myself for the biggest challenge I am yet to face. There is a particular song from In the Heights that should guide every life, Paciencia y Fe, patience and faith. Abuela Claudia, the character, preaches this to the neighborhood giving strength to those who long for home. This year, every day I will tell myself Paciencia y Fe, Paciencia y Fe, and never lose faith in myself, for I know whatever I do and wherever I go someday I will know of who I am, and of my birthmother.

Home isn’t exactly where you feel you should belong. The characters of In the Heights bring to us a strength that little posess. They deal with more than the ordinary struggles each and everyone of us face. No matter where we are, or who we are, we really do know what each other is going through. The ability to surmount each challenge with courage, even if not seen by the human eye, can be the best medicine. With just a little faith, and little confidence one can grow and pass onto others this life message.

Paciencia y Fe, one of life’s little miracles, can give you the choice to live happiness. Whether on top of the world, or wherever life may lead you. The climb to our own Mount Everest is worth the wait, and climb to something beyond our wildest dreams.





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susieqcsw said...
Sept. 5, 2010 at 3:58 am
This article is so inspiring, especially coming from a young person today.  She shared herself from her heart and apparantly has had a personal awakening.  How refreshing to learn that a young person in todays world has taken time to reflect and then to share her inner most feelings.  She is headed on a positive path and I wish her well.  I do hope to read more from this person. 
 
skurth9029 said...
Aug. 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm
Very nice, Lizzie! :)
 
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