When I was younger, my mom would often cook traditional Cuban dishes such as platanos and arroz con pollo. I vividly remember the aroma that would fill the house as she cooked. Most clearly of all, I remember how arroz con pollo was such a treat. We had it on very special occasions and it always came with stories of our family’s history. I grew up with a special place in my heart for these dishes as well as other traditions from latin America. These traditions hold an immense amount of significance to me and my family because they remind us of our roots.
My mother’s father was born in Cuba. His parents fled from Europe during the second world war in order to escape the holocaust and Cuba was the most viable option. My grandfather along with my great uncle were both raised as Jewish children in Cuba. When they were still young children, they moved to New York with their parents who sought out the freedom and protection offered by the United states as well as jobs to support their family.
My grandfather being Cuban makes me one quarter Cuban, as well as Jewish; a very interesting combination. I can honestly say that I would not be who I am today without my religious and ethnic background. While it may not be apparent to the untrained eye, many traditions, both Cuban and Jewish have been passed down through my family and have a significant impact on who I am and my day to day life.
Although it is not strongly reflected in some aspects of my life, my heritage is an incredibly important part of who I am. My background has helped shape me throughout my entire life and I think that as a person, I reflect that in my actions. It has made me realize that everyone has their own story. Knowing this builds a desire to learn the stories of others. I love listening to people talk about how different actions have had an impact on them. I often find myself taking a step back, preferring to listen to what people have to say which occasionally lets me discover something new about myself, or even uncover an opinion I never knew I held. I truly would not be the person I am today without my background and I can honestly say that I could not be more grateful for it.