Identity and Sense of Belonging

When asked about how he would identify himself or how he sees himself, Orlando said, “as a collage of hopefully good things.”  A product of his past, of what his parents and his “life brought [him] to be.”  From his youth in Venezuela, to working in Lawrence, Caracas, Miami, and Boston, to retirement in Hanover, each place has shaped Orlando in its own way.  Although he acknowledges his Venezuelan roots, Orlando doesn’t think that he ever really “used them for anything.”  Unlike many migrants, he didn’t use the fact that he was Venezuelan to bridge social connections in the United States, with the exception of two of his jobs – a conversational Spanish teacher and a translator for Spanish-speaking Latino migrants.

Orlando didn’t model his life after anyone’s expectations or “way of being,” he simply worked with what he was given, making the best of every situation he faced.  One quality that Orlando did say he has is the ability to “look at people and feel” them, understand what they’re going through before they say a word.  It is this characteristic that makes Orlando such a personable human being.  A man who can strike up conversation with anyone, make new acquaintances in any environment.  He also believes that this explains why he did not struggle to fit in or make new friends in the United States, sharing this story in regards to the many acquaintances he has:

“Acquaintances, oh God, acquaintances…I go in Lawrence…not so much now, but I used to go in the city and, ‘Hey Mr. Salazar, hey Orlando.’  I used to meet my son in Boston, when he was working in Boston I was working in Boston.  I said, ‘Oh let’s go for lunch,’  and we walked down the street and somebody [would] say, ‘Hey Orlando how you doing?’ ‘Dad, who are these people?’ *Laughter* I don’t know!”

Not only is Orlando personable, he also approaches every situation with a good attitude.  I believe that this quality, along with his hard work and dedication to providing for his family, drove Orlando’s success in the United States.  Without a complete college education Orlando achieved what many can only hope for – to give their children the opportunity to attain success and an understanding of the value of perseverance.