Meet MGC Raleigh legal assistant Maggie Garcia-Schubert as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Hola, amigos! My name is Maggie Garcia-Schubert and I work in our Raleigh office. Since September is Hispanic Heritage Month, I would love to take this opportunity to tell you a little about myself and my birth country, Cuba, and what this month means to me.
My little island, Cuba, is just 90 miles south of the southernmost tip of the United States. It’s a Caribbean island with a strong Spanish background. It has a history about as long as that of the US, including some shared dark eras, such as slavery. However, it also has some wonderful history and traits. It was a world leader in sugar, rum and tobacco production, birthplace of salsa music and the mojito and was the third wealthiest country in the Western hemisphere, behind only the US and Canada.
Notice I said ‘was’ in those claims. Most Cubans see Cuba as two separate entities – the democratic and advanced country it was before Fidel Castro took power and the decimated land it has become since then (now one of the poorest in the world with some of the worst human rights violations).
I was born two years before the Castro revolution and two years after that, I was able to immigrate to the US. My childhood, like most of my generation, was drastically interrupted by this revolution. For one thing, my parents, my sister and I had to abandon everything we held dear to us – families, homes, careers and country. My father and about 1,400 others took part in a US-backed invasion named the Bay of Pigs Invasion (they landed in a bay on the southern coast of Cuba by that name) in an attempt to liberate their country. Unfortunately and for various reasons, the invasion failed and they were either killed in battle or captured and spent almost two years in horrific prison conditions. Once liberated by a deal made by the US government (and a brilliant lawyer named James Donovan), the prisoners were brought to the US where many joined the US military – my dad chose the Army, which makes me an Army brat.
I grew up with one foot entrenched in my parents’ world and the other solidly on American soil. Our Thanksgiving meals consisted of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie alongside roasted pork, black beans and rice and flan. We celebrated Christmas with the traditional-to-us Christmas Eve feast where everyone you were related to or were friends with was welcomed and dinner started around 9 pm with salsa music, dancing and dominoes after that. And then on Christmas day, we had Santa Claus and the traditional American celebrations. We spoke both English and Spanish at home (I still revert to Spanish when I get really mad and recite nursery rhymes and lullabies to my grandchildren in Spanish). We had monthly phone calls to family members back in Cuba who we never saw again.
Earlier this year I released a children’s book titled, The Story of Orqui and Starr, about our journey from Cuba to the US. If you’re interested in it, please visit my website: OrquiandStarr.com
I will always love my birth country, but feel incredibly blessed to have two countries I call mine.”