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When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago - the Life of an Immigrant - Essay Example

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This paper "When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago - the Life of an Immigrant" focuses on one of the important characteristics of our modern world that are the increasing rate of intermingling between cultures, which on one hand leads to the positive growth of our awareness of the variety and diversity of cultural traditions and existing worldviews, but on the other hand creates tensions…
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When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago - the Life of an Immigrant
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When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago - the Life of an Immigrant

However, for people that had spent some part of their lives in different cultural and social environments, and, moreover, who had been formed as personalities outside our society, the task of integration can hardly be an easy one. Indeed, one of the biggest challenges for such people may, after all, lie in finding a proper balance between their status as immigrants, who would inevitably to a certain degree be faced with their perception by other people and even by themselves as in essence alien, and their new status as members of a new society, which with time carries them further and further away from their native culture, thus alienating them from it as well. Thus, this two-sided dilemma is perhaps one of the greatest challenges that immigrants have to find their own answer to, and on this answer to a great measure depends their future life and success. Luckily, there are ways to come out of this dilemma as a winner, and examples of such personal victories of people are worthy of our great respect. In this regard, we may turn our attention to the life story of Esmeralda Santiago, an immigrant from Puerto Rico who had passed through numerous difficulties to reach a prominent status as a writer and owner of a film company. I suppose that with the help of her autobiographical book "When I was Puerto Rican" we may immediately experience the challenges that we have discussed by taking a look at the life of an immigrant from her own point of view.
Esmeralda Santiago was the eldest child in the family and had ten brothers and sisters. She grew in Puerto Rico, and during her childhood due to family circumstances was changing her place of living between a village and a suburb of the capital of Puerto Rico. In 1961, when she was thirteen, Esmeralda Santiago with her mother and her siblings moved to New York. There, after having hard times attending school in Brooklyn, she managed to enter the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan, then graduated from Harvard University, and received from Sarah Lawrence College a master's degree. Now, with her husband and two children, Santiago lives in Westchester County, New York (Santiago 2006). Santiago summarized her outstanding years of life in several books, of which "When I Was Puerto Rican" is perhaps one of the closest to her concerns about the immigrant's dilemma of identity definition. Indeed, the past tense of the title of the book is immediately indicative of her mixed attitude to her past, and from the very opening pages of this autobiography, we as readers begin to understand why that is the case. The reason for this is the extremely vivid style of Santiago's writing, which perfectly fits the period of the childhood of every person as during that time life is perceived in a very special and bright way. That is why we can see already from the beginning of the book that the part of the story where the author describes her early years of life will never lose its influence on Santiago in her later life. What adds to it is the sheer exotics of the environment of Macun community the little Negi, as she Santiago used to be called, was growing in, like the house of her family that resembled "a giant version of the lard cans used to haul water from the public fountain" (Santiago 1994, p.7), or pernicious insects from which their house could hardly offer a decent protection as a few examples.  ... Read More
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