My first four years in the states I didn’t want to go back. In fact, I hadn’t planned to go back for a while. An unexpected trip with my brother reminded me of the places and people I had left behind. Since then, I have visited my home country the Dominican Republic almost every year.
It’s the same thing every year; I begin preparing in the early months of the year, and by August we are getting in a plane with everything planned out. Upon arriving back from my trip, the excitement begins once again for next year.
As I speak with some of my closest friends, I begin to realize one thing we share, and is the love for our country. It feels like every time we visit, it serves as a reminder of how much we love it.
I should probably specify that my closest friends are my cousins. They too grew up in the Dominican Republic with me, they too also migrated to the U.S. around the same time as me, and – you guessed it – they too don’t miss an August without going back.
As we begin to plan for the trip, we make sure to plan every detail possible, from places we are going to visit when we arrive to the first thing we would drink when we touch Dominican land (usually a presidente).
The yearly visits to the campo with the loud Merengue music in every corner, and the dancing in the colmado reminds me perhaps that’s where I belong. There is something different about going back and seeing the people I grew up around.
In 2016, when I climbed Pico Duarte (the tallest mountain in the Caribbean) I questioned whether I would ever feel so proud of something I accomplished here in the states. I think the disconnect of the culture, language, food and weather helped me understand that maybe I would never adapt to be anything other than Dominican.
Even though I was born in the Dominican Republic, I came to the United States when I was 13 years-old, and trust me – it is easy to start forgetting the short life you lived up to age 13. Going back helps me maintain that pride intact.
I have also been lucky that I have landed in a place where the Dominican community is prevalent. Just 10 minutes from my house I can get Yaroa. Just two hours away I have Washington Heights, the heart of the Dominican community away from the motherland.
Is hard to explain the amount of pride I feel every single time I say I am Dominican.
For comments/questions about this story, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @TheWhitOnline.