These days, there’s been a lot of talk about what it means to be American. From my outside view, I’m impressed at the how the rich diversity of cultures highly enrichens the American society. Particularly, I’m intrigued at how growing up in the exact crossing between two cultures shape your view about the world. To explore this topic in depth, I sat down with my friend Alejandro Lozano (‘18) to talk about his personal experience.
Alejandro, tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Alejandro Lozano and I grew up in Laredo, TX which is separated by about a quarter mile bridge to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Both downtowns are about 5 minutes apart. I am of the first generation of my family to go to school in the US along with 3 other siblings.
Tell us about some of your memories growing up
Living in Mexico early on, my earliest memories are of my mom driving us across the bridge from Mexico to the US every early morning for us to get an American education. My little sister and I both did all our schooling in the US, while my older sister and older brother did some in Mexico.
How was going to school in Laredo, TX while living in Nuevo Laredo, MX?
Laredo is a unique in that it was ~95% Hispanic when I was growing up. It felt like Mexico with an American infrastructure. You could live there and be perfectly ok only knowing Spanish. We had quite a the few public schools and one main private (Catholic) school. The private school was the closest school to the border and thus created an artery from Mexico’s wealthiest families to an American education. Because of this, the environment at this school was more of a preppy, proper Mexican world whereas the public schools were an entirely mixed bag (and much larger).
How do you think growing up in a border town has influenced your sense of culture identity?
Growing up in a border town, you are Mexican. Your upbringing is Mexican, everything about my house is Mexican. Spanish is the language spoken and Mexican food is about all that is cooked.
Laredo feels like Mexico because the vast majority of families grow up like this. At that time, I was surrounded by many other first generation Hispanics as well. Growing up in a border town, so close to your native ethnicity, allows you to be constantly connected to Mexican culture. It’s right there, 5 minutes away and you most likely still visit family there regularly, maybe even daily. It sticks with you forever and I believe that’s because it’s easy to be reminded of what it’s about.
What do you think is special about your community?
One of the best things you get out of growing up in such a culture is that you can have an instant connection to internationals you meet across the US. Whether it’s in business school or at a bar, you can meet someone from a Spanish speaking country and instantly relate even if they are from a different country than the country you’re from. Growing up being able to be fully immersed in a Hispanic culture allows you to draw parallels and make connections with cultures from other Central or South American countries. This, in turn, amplifies the opportunity to create more meaningful relationships when working within a global company or being a part of any global effort.
Jesus is a Mexican first year student on a daily fight against FOMO.
Alejandro is a first year, first generation student, attending Booth to shift his career towards the finance industry.