Ricardo Reyes was born in Mexico City, but was raised in Acapulco, Mexico. He lived with his parents and grandparents for most of his adolescent years.
At the age of 19, Ricardo decided to leave home and moved to Cancun, where he found work as a lifeguard. He enjoyed this new sense of freedom and independence that he had never really experienced before. While living in Cancun for a couple of years, he met Amy Turner from Rhode Island, who would become his future wife. She frequently traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula to vacation. After dating for some time, he asked her to marry him and she accepted. Amy moved to Cancun for a few months, but wasn’t able to adapt well. Ricardo then made the decision to leave his job as a lifeguard and move to the United States with her. After completing all of the necessary paper work and paying the fees for a visa, he was able to travel to the United States.
“When all [the] paper work was done, they granted me a visa, and I crossed the border in a cab. It’s not like in the movies or anything like that. I just caught a cab. After that I ended up in Houston, Texas [and] then flew to Rhode Island.”
As he settled in Rhode Island, Ricardo had no idea how he was going to make a living for himself, because being a lifeguard in New England was impractical with its fluctuating weather. He also did not have a formal or technological education that could be transferrable or make the process in finding a job easier. Ricardo thought that if anything, he would work in a factory, but to his surprise, there were no factory jobs available at the time.
“I thought, I‘ll just probably go and work in a factory for now. Then when I came here I realized that factories had been gone for ten, fifteen, twenty years.”
With job availability being scarce, he thought he would end up washing dishes or mopping floors. For a period of time he worked as a landscaper in Potowomut and Valley Country Club golf courses, and was a dishwasher for Chelo’s.
Although the transition was hard, with the help and support from his wife and his new family members, Ricardo felt at home. Prior to arriving in the United States, he had heard that Americans were able to speak freely, and was glad that this was true. He is proud to say that he has this right of free speech in America, and that everyone has a voice and there is nothing that can stop a person from expressing it.
Ricardo is a proud Rhode Islander and considers Rhode Island and this country as his home. He admits that there have been certain aspects about the United States that discourage him, such as the weather or something more serious, like discrimination. Ricardo says, however, that he was not completely shocked by discrimination because it is something that exists everywhere. “Even among Mexicans there is discrimination based on one’s appearance and the type of clothing one wears.”
Ricardo currently lives with his wife and children in Warwick. He works as an Interpreter at Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, which helps new immigrants and refugees make the transition to life in Rhode Island, as he did.
Written and compiled by Biverly Jeannis and Viviana Zendejas