Where were you born, and how did you come to Northeast Ohio?
I was born in Mexico City and I came to the U.S. after some of my sisters relocated here and they invited me join them. I am the second youngest of seven children. Years later, I decided to move to Madison, Wisconsin in search of better opportunities and in hopes that I would improve my language skills. My brother had recommended that I look into moving to Madison after spending a summer there. That is how I met my wife, who was a student at the University of Wisconsin. Together we decided to live in Costa Rica in 1998 and in 2000, we moved back up to NE Ohio where she is originally from. This is where we decided to stay and raise our family.
What were your first thoughts about the United States? Did those change?
My very first impression of the United States was looking from a bus station in Mexico across the horizon and seeing beautiful buildings with gardens on the other side of the border, which were so drastically different from the ones on the Mexican side.
Once in the U.S., it seemed to me that people were very refined and formal, maybe because I did not understand English. I assumed this because the U.S. as a country is more developed, organized, and has many rules compared to the chaos of Mexico City. After learning more English, I realized that that is not necessarily the case.
What challenges did you face transitioning here?
Not knowing the language was the biggest barrier, and not understanding the culture and social cues did not help that fact. I often found myself missing friends from back home in Mexico City. Making friends with non-Spanish speakers was a challenge. That said, I knew pushing myself to learn English by conversing with new people would be much more beneficial than trying to surround myself with only Spanish-speaking friends. I made it a goal to gain more knowledge about anything I could to pursue a better life.
How did Localingua get started?
After working for years as a freelancer for a translation agency, I began work as their in-house sales manager before deciding that I really wanted to follow my lifelong dream of starting my own business. Coincidentally, I live right next to one of the leading schools in the country for translation and one of graduates from the program was willing to help me in my endeavors. In 2006, with one laptop and different varieties of translation software, the business began to take form. Soon, I found myself attending networking events and translation association conferences to find our first clients and establish our business.
Are you a member of a sorority, fraternity, or any other civic or social organization?
When I was in college, I was a member of the Latino Student Association and also the Student Economics Organization because that was my major.
Additionally, I participated in events with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
I have been a member of the NEO STC (Northeast Ohio Society for Technical Communication) for a long time, and, together with the PR committee, earned the STC Award of Excellence in Public Relations in the Northeast Ohio Community. I am also a member of the American Translators Association. Both are technical and professional organizations and I am always looking forward to their events in order to network and learn more about the industry.
How has the community made you feel welcomed?
For the first few years, I was a non-traditional full-time student and I really enjoyed it. In addition to working from home and later starting Localingua, I opened a bike shop because I wanted to engage the community and really contribute to it.
I have always felt that I have been welcomed here and I believe that taking an active role in being part of the community has helped that.
What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?
Day of the Dead as been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. Between making the traditional foods, listening to the music, and enjoying the colors, I have so many fond memories of this celebration. To this day, it is very important to continue tradition in my house.
I always try to keep up with speaking Spanish, even at work, where I can speak Spanish with all of my employees.
Dancing has been a huge part of my upbringing as well, especially salsa!
What do you love about Cleveland?
Cleveland has great entertainment—music, tourism, restaurants and cultural variety all keep things fresh and exciting. It is a city of true resilience which continues to thrive. I love being able to go downtown to see entertainers, like the late Celia Cruz and Louis CK, with my family we enjoy going to the West Side Market and cheering on the Cavs.
Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?
We really are a great human resource and we have a lot to offer in the way of diverse experience and a resilience that most Northeast Ohioans share. Turning a blind eye to the full potential of the positive ideas and energy that these people bring could be a huge loss to the community. We provide a richness to the culture by bringing our own personal stories and experiences and truly work to improve our surroundings in pursuit of a better life, which in turn improves the lives of those around us.