Interview about the Role of Acculturation in the Success of the US Latin community
Posted by La Alemana con Alma Latina at February 2nd, 2011
This is an interview about the importance of learning the English language, adopting the US culture and using all opportunities for education when improving your life.
Raul Gimenez is the Vice-President of Transit Sales International, a company that specializes in supplying quality, used transit buses to customers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and points throughout the World.
What makes you Latino? How do you define “Latino”?
The fact that I was born in Havana, Cuba and that Spanish is my primary language. I define Latino as anyone from spanish speaking country who permanently resides in the United States.
What are the experiences in your life that make you who you are and that turned you into a Latino leader?
While working in architectural office I was contacted about an opportunity to work at manufacturing company owned by a Latino family. It was there that I became introduced to the Latino workforce which comprised 100% of the manufacturing positions. I found them to be dedicated and hard workers. Over the years I was promoted into management roles and through my career I continued to work for manufacturing companies where the majority of the workers were Latinos.
What do you believe is the reason that a lot of Latinos do not let their brilliance shine as much as they could?
I think that if they are in the country legally they will be more likely to shine. However, many tend to gravitate around their own ethnic group and fail to become proficient in the English language thereby shining within their own community. It is only through assimilation and education that they can attain their full potential outside the Latino community.
What is the consequence that you see for these people and their future generations if they are not living their full potential?
They will continue to be second class citizens and reinforce widely held stereotypes.
What do you think is necessary for the Latin community to feel safe to let their brilliance shine?
I think that is essential to learn the English language and assimilate into mainstream culture while still retaining your cultural identity.
Who are the people that influenced your decisions and future the most? Why is that?
I would say early in my life it was my mother who encouraged me and supported me throughout my academic experience.
What are your dreams and aspirations for the Latin community in the USA and in the world?
That they take advantage of all of the educational opportunities available, learn the language of their new country, set goals for themselves and attain them one step at a time, and ultimately become contributing members of the community at large not just in their own communities.
What else do you want to share that you believe is important for people to know?
In this life you are not entitled to anything other than what you work for. So if you are looking for handouts without willing to work, you will never rise above the status quo. I came to the United States unable to speak English. I was put in a classroom with a room full of English speaking children and assigned a student that spoke Spanish. In a matter of a few short months I was independent of it. Since that time, I graduated from High School, graduated from Architecture school, graduated from law school, passed the California Bar the first time, became President of a public corporation, graduated from a police academy, became a full time deputy sheriff, volunteered as a Judge Pro Tem, and still going….