Prompt: "Describe the Neighborhood in which you grew up and how it influenced your development making you into the person you are today."
To be able to grow and mature, one has to look back towards our beginnings in order to understand who we are and what made us this way. To me Aiko Uzcategui, life has taught me through various experiences to pay close attention to the opportunities life has given me in order to reap all the potential it has to offer. I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela experiencing Venezuelan culture with my family, while attending International Schools that allowed me to gain a wider perspective of the world. I learned from a very young age that everyone is unique in their own particular way ,and that it was up to us to find out our special purpose in the world. This special purpose is all about identifying our strengths and learning how to use them to better ourselves, others, and even the world. In my school we would have events such as international fairs where student's nationality were celebrated through booths with everything from their national food to national toys. Growing up surrounded by this variety of cultures made me a very open-minded person, with the courage to try new things, even if it's just a foreign dessert such as the brazilian brigadeiro or the Argentinian alfajor. At the end of the day, I still value my mother's Venezuelan arepas more than any dish ,not only because of its savory taste ,but because of the effort she did to put it on the table.
Venezuela, is currently undergoing what is said to be one of the worst political,economic, and social crises in modern history. While I was growing up, Venezuela deteriorated exponentially causing those who were not corrupt and following the government to fall from grace. My mother being one of the business owners who didnt give in to corruption was persecuted ,and eventually led to the expropiation of one of her establishments. This expropriation became increasingly hostile towards our family when my mother tried to resist. Thankfully the hostility remained at threat level when she had to give up her hard worked establishment. In addition to the lack of security my family was facing, the unreliability of the country, in terms of basic needs such as electricity, running water, and food forced my mother to leave to another country seeking a more stable life for her daughter's growth. Leaving the rest of my family behind when I was 14, has taken a big toll on my life resulting in me understanding and placing value in the effort my mother did to provide a better life for us ,and as a result it worked as a motivation for me to work harder in school and value "basic necessities", such as running water and electricity. I have learned not to take things for granted ,and be grateful for the opportunities life has served me.
Watching my parents, both entrepreneurs be hindered by such conditions in Venezuela, has motivated me to grasp the opportunity of expanding my knowledge on business. As I watched my mother fend for her company long distance in Venezuela, new startups in the United States, and new projects in Aruba, I got to experience her undying perseverance and determination that has truly impacted my growth as a person. I have learned ,thanks to her, not to give up at the sight of adversity, such as when we had to move from the United States to Aruba to ensure my mother wouldnt fall in the status of an illegal immigrant. All this has made me proud of my roots ,and made understand that today's world is complex and we must learn to adapt to life's adversity and always try to look at the bright side. I had to give up my life in Miami, Florida ,and adapt to living on the island of Aruba. Although, it was a sudden change, I saw it as an opportunity towards growth not only on my mother's behalf ,but my own. Here in Aruba, my mother met this wonderful woman, who would soon become her wife ,and basically my second mother. Without the adversity of my mother's immigration status, we wouldnt have had the privilege of meeting such a wonderful person, who has filled our entire family with joy or the opportunity of creating a business in the country of Aruba.
Through all this, I have learned to keep an eye out for the hidden jewels in our arduous journey that are meant to be taken and polished. Life can throw us opportunities dressed as adversities that could potentially lead to wonderful experiences and people we wouldnt have encountered without having to work through some tough situations. Keeping a positive outlook on how I deal with my life and learning how to make mature decisions were two of the many qualities I have acquired growing up ,that will assist me in my venture towards adulthood and at the start of a new professional career.