First Person Immigrant Stories
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Nabil Valencia

Nabil Valencia, Guatemalan, Colombian, American

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Someone sold them on the idea of the American Dream and he ended up being a busboy at a pizza restaurant in the Bronx.
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Nabil: My name is Nabil Ohania Valencia.

Interviewer: When did you parents first came to America?

Nabil: Both of my parents arrived in the 80s, but my mother actually came when she was fifteen years old from Guatemala. My grandparents had originally immigrated here back in the late 50s due to political blacklisting in Guatemala and my father was from Colombia.

My mother came from Guatemala during the 80s and my father came from Colombia also during the 80s but my grandparents from my mom's side had been back and forth in New York City since the late fifties.

Interviewer: What was the reason they first came to America?

Nabil: My grandparents actually faced some political persecution, blacklisting, my grandfather couldn't find a job he was working for the president of Guatemala during the late 50s. So someone sold them on the idea of the American Dream and he ended up being a busboy at a pizza restaurant in the Bronx. So, eventually he brought everybody over and I was born in Norwalk Connecticut.

Interviewer: What is something that they taught you that you feel like you bring here?

Nabil: Helping each other out. We're big believers in helping each other as a family but also our community. That has inspired me to get involved and work with my local community organizations elected officials and just kind of help people get a voice and be heard whether no matter where you come from.

Interviewer: Is there a specific memory you have where you felt really proud to be American?

Nabil: I think I was the most proud to be American when I graduated college in 2011. I'm the first generation from both sides of the families, first college graduate, first master's graduate, first person to kind of pave the way for my younger cousins. And it wouldn't have been possible if they had stayed in Latin America at that time. So, to me that was achieving the American dream to save my mom.

Interviewer: Do you feel like you are living the American dream?

Nabil:  I'm living someone’s American dream, but I think there that there's still a lot of possibilities - a lot of untapped resources - and it's up to us and my generation to kind of help each other out and see what's out there and to build unity. So, it's not my American Dream just yet.

Interviewer: Do you have hope?

Nabil:  I do, I think that we're all becoming aware. Everybody's from somewhere and everybody has a different story and I think it's just a matter of sharing them and humanizing each other and to get rid of xenophobia and eventually I think maybe my kids will have a better easier time at getting along than I did.

Interviewer: Is there something that you would want to say to someone that doesn’t believe that immigrants are a “real” part of America?

Nabil:  I would like to say that everybody is human and just because we were born in a specific place doesn't mean we belong in that specific place.