Letter From an American Peruvian

Author: Adriana Fernandez

“Where are you from?” That’s one of the most asked questions to get to know a person you’ve just met. Not saying it’s an overrated question at all­. Matter of fact, it’s one of my favorite questions to be asked. Most people don’t anticipate this question since they would most likely just have a straightforward answer.

Hello reader, my name is Adriana Fernandez and I was born in Lima, Peru. No, not Peru State, but the actual country. I know what you’re thinking, who would assume Peru state? Funny enough, I’ve gotten that answer before.

I was born in Lima and raised here in the States in Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood, FL. Now I’m here in the heart of the United States. My answer to where I’m from would include where I was born, raised and where I live now. For someone who hasn’t moved away from his or her birthplace, you, my friend, are lucky you don’t have a long answer. I always need to have it memorized and prepared in my head.

With being born in a different country than I actually grew up in is neat. Learning about Peru’s culture and lifestyle from my parents while living in the States was and still is fascinating. Since I don’t remember Peru very well, my mom and dad try their best to show me pictures and videos from when I was a small child.

Lima is mostly known for being the urban section of Peru. Lima, and other cities surrounding it, are on the west side of the country. While the mountains/rural section are centrally located, the east side is the jungle section where the Amazon River intersects.

Poverty hits hard up in the mountains and doesn’t compare to the poverty citizens experience here. My parents and relatives always tell the poverty lifestyle over there is 10 times worse than here. Unless I actually go there and see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t be able to imagine how tragic it is. However, I have an idea based on being told that children over there beg for money in the city. Children without adult supervision and no one to look after them is a troubling and sad situation. Every time I think about what’s happening over there, I grow in gratefulness in the life I have here.

Coming from two different backgrounds while being raised, I have come to be bilingual in English and Spanish. Spanish is my native tongue and I magically learned the English language when I enrolled in elementary school in Florida. Quick story: In my first few months in kindergarten, I used to talk to my friends in Spanish and they communicated back in English. Oddly, my parents and their parents told us when we grew up that we completely understood each other. I don’t remember anything that happened to have such result but what I do know is that the little me could retain a new language.

I would say the biggest challenge from being an American Peruvian would be my effort to be legit in both of them. Don’t get me wrong–I love and am appreciative of my two backgrounds. The perks of learning and teaching those around me about my two countries is something no one will ever take away from me.

Yet sometimes I think to myself that both of the cultures have their differences and similarities. The differences is where I need to draw a line to distinguish so I can be accepted in each of them. I then come to terms with myself that being bicultural is unique–I should always be myself no matter what.

I’m happy to say I’m almost finished with my studies in the field of advertising and public relations. Our family’s goal for coming to the U.S. has always been for my brother and I to get a better education than Peru offers. After all these years of studying day to night, I’m going to have my degree. I anticipate to travel after I graduate and the first country I’m visiting will be my home country.

¡Viva Perú, carajo!

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