(A speech given at The Pennington School to commemorate the Hispanic Heritage Month)

We all come from different places and have different stories. Mine began in Cuba and took an exciting turn when I moved to the United States to study. It’s kind of like jumping from one book into another, with new characters and new scenes, yet, I am still the main character of my story.

In Cuba, I was surrounded by familiar faces and places. When I came here to further my studies, things looked different, and often, people saw me differently too. 

My journey made me realize that who we are is not just tied to a flag or a country. It’s so much more. We are shaped by our experiences, the things we learn, the friends we make, and the challenges we overcome.

The whole idea of the “American Dream” or belonging to just one place didn’t resonate with me. I discovered that my identity goes beyond borders.

Every one of us is like a unique painting, with colors and strokes from all the different parts of our lives. We keep adding to our picture every day, with every new experience and every new person we meet.

I learned that it’s not about where you come from, but the journey you are on and the person you are becoming. Our stories are what make us unique, and sharing them with each other helps us learn, grow, and understand the world a little better.

In Spanish, there are two ways to say "to be": "Ser" and "Estar." It's like having two different lenses to look at who we are. "Ser" is used for things that don't change, like where you come from or the fact that you are a student. It's like the permanent colors in your life's picture. On the other hand, "Estar" is for things that can change, like feelings or where you are at the moment. It's like the changing shades in your picture as you go through your day. This cool thing about Spanish shows us that our identity has parts that stay the same and parts that change as we grow or as our day goes by. So, just like "Ser" and "Estar," who we are has both steady and shifting colors, making our life picture interesting and unique.

So, let’s celebrate our stories, learn from each other, and help each other paint our own remarkable, multifarious pictures.