As a child growing up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, my friends spent long days under the sun playing baseball, while I stayed in, geeking out on American nerd culture: Transformers, Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons. They didn’t understand me. I loved computers and sci-fi and dreamed of one day finding friends who shared my interests.
My dreams came true when I moved to the U.S. to study computer science at Northeastern University in Boston. I quickly fell into a group of friends who loved the same things I did; we loudly and proudly indulged in our niche interests, like joining a role playing club, going to GenCon in Milwaukee to compete in a Dungeon and Dragons Tournament, or going to the theater to watch the re-released Star Wars movie twice in the span of 24 hours.
This is what I love about America. No matter who you are, you can find your circle of friends in this vastly diverse country.
Now, at 43, I’m helping others find their posse as a Staff Software Engineer at Twitter. Twitter provides a great platform for people to have open and honest conversations. It helps regular folks communicate with people in power, amplify messages and find others who share their interests and values. Sometimes, when I think about my job I have to pinch myself. I’m doing the work I love alongside colleagues who help me grow; and as a bonus, they’re always eager to nerd out with me, whether we’re talking video games, Dungeons and Dragons or American football.
My immigration story isn’t a dramatic one. Student and work visas helped me get my start. The green card and eventual US citizenship came after I married my American wife. The process took some time, but compared to others — like one boss from India who has to wait on his green card application for over 10 years— I had it easy.
Becoming a citizen was deeply meaningful to me. Taking the oath was an emotional moment. And now, as a husband, father, employee and community member, I take my citizenship seriously.
I work hard, vote, care for my family and give back as much as I can. I volunteer at my children’s bilingual Spanish and English elementary school, where my wife is also the PTA president. Being bilingual helps me bridge our native English and native Spanish-speaking communities.
Now, when I hear my children speaking Spanish and English, when I see them playing with my lightsabers and when they Zoom bomb my virtual Dungeons and Dragons games begging me to play along, I know I’m living the American Dream.