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Life > Experiences

Borizolana: Of Being Puerto Rican & Venezuelan

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

It all starts when someone asks: “Where are you from?” or some variation of it. A question that has become more frequent after starting college and comes as soon as people notice my pronunciation and accent, or maybe a word they didn’t quite get. Sure, it doesn’t come across when speaking English, but it does make an appearance in Spanish. For some reason, I just love it when it comes up, because I get to boast about another aspect of who I am, like a “but wait, there’s more!” moment. So, to the previous and frequently asked question, I always respond with “I was born in Puerto Rico, but my family is from Venezuela”, always making sure to emphasize that I am both Puerto Rican and Venezuelan.

My Roots 

My parents came to Puerto Rico back in 2002, when my mom got the opportunity to work on a project for a company that was developing our current subway system (safe to say that most of UPRRP students are familiar with it). They had been living in California for a few months working for that company. A few months on the island turned into a few years, and in 2004 I was born. Even by that time, there was still the possibility of going back to Venezuela. In another life, I would have been raised in Venezuela and Puerto Rico would have been a distant memory. But that was not the case: I grew up here, with Venezuela close to my heart and a constant at home.

Connecting with Venezuela

I used to travel to Venezuela during most Christmases and got to spend time with my family, eating hallacas, and listening to Venezuelan aguinaldos. I was always very introverted and shy (an only child too), but once December came, I was running around grandma’s house with my cousins like a happy little ball of energy, playing with kids in the neighborhood, an experience I didn’t have living in an apartment building back home, in Puerto Rico. Which makes it a part of my childhood I fondly look back to.

Many like to argue or minimize my Venezuelan identity, but it’s not a matter of either or. One culture does not make me appreciate the other less, because both are a source of pride that I wear like badges of honor. Sometimes, I even point out that I have both nationalities, so I’m officially both. Of course, I am aware of the fact that I was not raised in nor live in my parents’ home country, but what I always try to educate people on is that your cultural identity comes, in part, from home. We associate it with food, music, and holiday traditions; the way we talk, the words we use. It’s all this and so much more.

Two cultures

A plural identity can feel conflicting sometimes, and I do miss my family often. Sometimes, it feels like there’s a part of me on both sides at the same time, and even if they complement each other, it can never be whole. I only see my family for a few weeks on some holidays, and there are so many family pictures where I’m missing. I can’t always relate when people talk about their backgrounds, having cousins and grandparents around in their childhood, sharing a common place with their parents and ancestors, nor can I relate when my parents talk nostalgically about where they grew up. Everyday I feel like there are more things I find out about both cultures, which makes me realize how little I know about each one. I’ve noticed this tends to happen in small moments, like not getting a reference or not knowing what something means.

I am proud of being Puerto Rican & Venezuelan

Puerto Rico is my home and I love it, and Venezuela, very dearly. My identity is in the air I breathe and the people I surround myself with. The more I socialize and interact with people, the more connected I feel with my island and that country that lies miles away from me. I enjoy learning about their history, and parts of the culture I didn’t grew up with. These experiences enrich my worldview and allow me to be closer to those around me. College has been great for this, because it’s an environment where we are all learning about who we are and where we came from, parts of which come from within and others from our environment. No one is or will ever be just one thing. All in all, I am thankful for being able to experience these two beautiful countries and all they have to offer.

Cristina Trejo is a Political Science major at the University of Puerto Rico and aspires to work in International Law. She believes in doing things that fuel your growth and that any experience is good experience. Everyone has their own journey and everyone is figuring things out. It's just a matter of learning and deciding what is best for our true selves.