Audio Recording of Interview
Carlos Gonzalez discusses his childhood in Cuba and experience living in the Dominican Republic before immigrating to th United States in 5th grade, where he faced difficulty adjusting to the culture and making new friends despite learning English rapidly. He describes his education both at Miami-Dade College and later Cornell University, as well as his multiple trips back to Cuba, and expresses hope for social change and greater equity in the United States.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
Narrator: Carlos Gonzalez
Date: August 5th, 2020
Location: Miami Lakes, FL (Zoom)
Summary: Carlos Gonzalez discusses his childhood in Cuba and experience living in the Dominican Republic before immigrating to th United States in 5th grade, where he faced difficulty adjusting to the culture and making new friends despite learning English rapidly. He describes his education both at Miami-Dade College and later Cornell University, as well as his multiple trips back to Cuba, and expresses hope for social change and greater equity in the United States.
Topics: Cultural Adjustment, Employment, Language, Education, Politics, Religion
Section 1: (0:00-9:54)
Childhood: Was born in Ciego de Avila, Cuba and spent 7 years in Cuba. Had good and bad memories of childhood in Cuba, and remembers his family’s farms. Says he had a fun childhood and cherishes it. Only did first grade in Cuba, had fun and had a lot of friends. In his neighborhood, everyone is close like a big family.
Leaving Cuba: Left Cuba at 7 years old and went to the Dominican Republic for a year and a half, before going to the United States. The Dominican Republic was the first opportunity for his family to leave, so they left in hopes for more opportunities. They found that the Dominican Republic was similar to Cuba and decided to come to the United States for opportunities. Had a fun time in the Dominican Republic, despite injuring himself right after getting there. Says classes were easier and would spend a lot of time with his family. Never really thought about moving, thought about going to the United States as a regular trip. Arrived by boat in Puerto Rico and entered the United States from there. Didn’t realize he was leaving Cuba behind and that he wouldn’t see family or friends for the next six years.
Section 2 (9:55-20:58)
Education and Adjusting: English came easily to him and he started 5th grade in the United States. Says it was difficult to adjust to American customs and didn’t make many friends until 10th grade. Says that for six years he was out of the loop. Spent 5th grade mainly learning English. Says middle school was the toughest, with the social aspect being the hardest part. Had few people to connect with who had shared experiences. Went to summer camp since his parents worked and had nobody to play with. 9th grade was a fresh start and he started developing into his own person. Started to make new friends and participated in normal high school events and traditions. Moved on from his experiences in middle school and got through it because of his family.
Working: Hard for his parents to adjust to life in the U.S. as well. They started working at factories and soon developed. His father had a degree in agronomy and changed to working at a nursery. His mother changed to working at a daycare while studying and got a certificate to be a pharmacy technician.
Section 3 (20:59-54:01)
College: Didn’t know much about applying to college but applied to three colleges and was accepted by all three. Chose to go to Miami-Dade College, as his cousin went and told him that the college set you up for success. Spent 2 years there and worked hard while looking at other programs. Applied to 13 programs and got into Cornell, which was his best choice after hearing back from all the programs. Studied business and got ahead in his classes, was able to study abroad and volunteer. His end goal is business but now he’s started to define it and look at it better. At Cornell, he was able to room with 4 other Cubans which helped him adjust to Ithaca, New York. Says Ithaca is completely different from Miami, from weather to the different types of people there. College taught him how small-minded he was in high school, as he experienced many things through studying abroad.
Returning to Cuba: Has gone back to Cuba around 4 or 5 times and says it’s an amazing place to visit. Cuba is what he considers home and what has defined him. Now realizes that there is nothing wrong with being a Cuban. Is proud to be Cuban not because of the politics, but because of Cuba as a whole and his family. Knows that Cuba has problems today and needs to change its government. Shows an ornament that his mother brought from Cuba when they first left. Says the ornament has always been around and is the one object that had been constant throughout his life.
Religion: Considers himself agnostic, in the middle ground. His family never spoke of religion and he wasn’t persuaded into a highly religious life. Many of his family members have a gold chain with Jesus at the tip. Considers himself more reliant on science than religion. Decided his stance when learning about biology and evolution, depends on facts as a source to base things on. Understands both the views of atheists and religious people.
Unexplainable Events: Had boiling water spilled on him when he was younger but survived through it. On the boat ride to Puerto Rico, they stopped at an island with jagged rocks and sharks and he and his family had to swim to the shore. Has moments of luck that cannot be proven scientifically.
Current Events: Believes that the current times will be historical and in the textbooks years from now. Glad that social change is happening with the Black Lives Matter movement. Sees both extremes during the pandemic, of people being cautious and people not caring. Believes that there should be a medium and we should respect each other’s opinions. Believes that immigrants have motivation like no others and should pass that drive down to future generations.