ALL WAYS UP FOUNDATION wrote -
Coming to the US at the age of five, I was downhearted to leave my life and the majority of my extended family in Peru. In an attempt to cheer me up, my father promised on the plane that once we got to the US, they were going to celebrate our arrival with fireworks at the Rose Bowl stadium. We landed on the afternoon of the fourth of July. A cousin picked us up from the airport and drove us to my aunt’s house in Altadena where we would be staying until my parents could get on their feet. That night, my aunt drove us all to the Rose Bowl and as it began to get dark, the fireworks began. In that moment, with the comfort of my family and the exciting flashes of fireworks in the sky, I got the feeling everything was going to turn out all right. My parents had great jobs in Peru, my father owned his own business and my mother had a high-status job at a company, but they wanted to give my sister and me more opportunities and a better chance at life so they decided to migrate to the US. This meant leaving their jobs, our house, and most importantly, our family, which was very difficult because we were very close-knit. A few days before we left, we had a going away party. I was happy to see everyone I loved and know how much they care about us, but at the same time it was heartbreaking to realize that I wouldn’t be able to see many of them after we made this journey. After our arrival, my parents understood that the only way to survive in a foreign country was by preserving their cultural values. Once I began school, I found this to be very challenging because I was also trying to assimilate. Not only did I have to learn the language, but I also had to immerse myself within a different culture. There weren’t any special classes for non-English speakers at my school, but I was fortunate that one of my first teachers spoke a little Spanish and could communicate with me. I then met some of my bilingual classmates who became quick friends as they helped me overcome my language barrier. My daily activities became easier with my improved knowledge of English, and I finally felt more settled in after the first few months. My family kept our Peruvian culture alive by keeping Peruvian customs in our household but we also chose to integrate American values in our lives, as we were a long way from Peru. Along the way the friends we made, made it very easy for us to get familiar with our surroundings. We even met Peruvian friends that shared similar lifestyles to ours, which was great because we had people who can empathize being away from our homeland. They made us feel that it was possible to preserve our Peruvian roots. The friends I gained around my neighborhood and at school helped give me the confidence to establish my own identity. My family and friends have had a great influence in shaping the person I am. All the support, care, and love they have showed to my family and I, I take in to consideration and cherish because it has made me a better person with great values. The hardships that I have endured trying to adjust to American culture and the life my parents had to give up have inspired me to pursue a higher level of education. I want to be able to implement my educational upbringing, my cultural sensitivity, and my love for physical therapy into reaching my goal as a future physical therapist for a professional football team. Having the opportunity provided by the Perlman Foundation to help financially support my academic and professional goals, would be an invaluable step in accomplishing my American Dream.