Public service announcement:
About three years ago (in 2016), I met someone who—quite politely—while making conversation, asked me a few questions that were a tad… insensitive.
I’ve had similar experiences ever since I moved to the mainland, as I am sure many Puerto Ricans have. To be fair, these questions are almost never mean-spirited, but as the proverbial drops keep hitting the rock, oh well…
As a consequence of these experiences, I have compiled the answers to several FAQs some people ask when meeting me.
Can you figure out the questions? (As I have said many times before, I have the humor of a six year old. I just imagined myself asking the question above using Dora the Explorer’s cadence… ).
Anyway, here we go:
*Yes, I am Puerto Rican. No, my looks are not uncommon in PR. Yes, my eyes are blue. Puerto Ricans come in all colors.
*American Citizen. Since birth, as all Puerto Ricans are; just like Texans, Alaskans, New Yorkers, etc. PR’s been a US territory since 1898 and every Puerto Rican is born a U.S. citizen since 1917.
*Yes, I got my education all the way up to my master’s degree in Puerto Rico. Yes, there are doctoral programs in PR, very good ones too. I simply chose to come to the mainland.
*Why yes, my PR education was perfectly adequate to prepare me for graduate school in the mainland (If you must know, I have a Cornell PhD…).
*Yes, Spanish is my first language. No, English is not a language barrier for me; I am fully bilingual. Graduate school in the US mainlan would have been quite difficult if I did not have at least a working command of English, don’t you think?
(Here I must give a shout out to people from all over the world who leave their homeland to pursue the dream of better work, better education, a better life for their families, etc. I’ve met many, and I mean many people like that, and I deeply admire them. Not many of us have the courage to do that. That takes character, and historically, it is what made our country great).
*No, It is not difficult for me to teach in English (Yes, I’ve been asked this question).
*Why yes, I have an accent. Guess what? So do you!
*Yes, I am a published scientist with an active research group. At this point of my career, I have authored more than two dozen papers/technical book chapters, two books, one in the way, and a few more at various stages of development.
*Yes, in English.
*Yes, I “go back home” often. Actually, I go home every day. My home is in Pennsylvania, where my wife and kids are, and also where my house (and my mortgage, my taxes, etc.) happen to be.
Any further questions?
This is my “Really?” face…
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