Family or Job?

By: Steven J. González Monroig

For many years, residents of Puerto Rico have been moving to the United States either because of job opportunities, competitive salaries, health  services or better lifestyles.  If you are the type of person that thinks that life in the United States, in all aspects, is better than life in Puerto Rico, you should meet Carlos Yancy.

“At the time I was studying, there were no many options.  I could not afford to study architecture in the mainland, so I studied in the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras,” he says.

Even though he seemed happy with the fact that he completed his bachelors degree in Puerto Rico, his eyes revealed dissatisfaction.

Carlos made the decision to move to the United States in 1990, when he decided to finish a degree in architecture in New York.  “Since then, I have been hopping back and forth from Puerto Rico to the US,” he says.

On 1993 he came back to Puerto Rico, where he worked at various administrative and teaching positions for the Department of Education for almost 15 years.  Although he had stable jobs, he always had the desire to be in the United States, so he was coming and going through the years.

When Carlos Yancy speaks about the mainland, you feel like if he was “American”.  He agrees with the fact that the principal reason for people to leave from Puerto Rico is because of job opportunities, and he adds, “also the lifestyle, the quality of life, the investment of your taxes in good things and the development of better programs and services make one love the North American setting immediately.”

For some people, leaving everything behind to move to another place may be very hard.  For Carlos this was not the case.  In fact, every opportunity that he has had on the mainland have been excellent.  His great academic background has a lot to do with these opportunities.

He believes that the economic crisis that Puerto Rico is now facing is not because of the brain-drain, or in other words, the people with superior academic preparation that move to the United States.  He blames instead the incompetency of the previous administrations and the fact that only a minority of the population works.

People usually experience drastic changes in their life once they decide to move from their homeland to another place.  “My life has changed completely.  Academically, socially, professionally. Every single move has enriched me, although I have to admit that my academic formation in UPR has made me succeed beyond my expectations. I was well prepared and am considered an expert in what I do by my colleagues and supervisors in the US,” he says about how his life has changed now that he lives in the US.

Carlos is very close and loving with his two kids, Karla Yancy, 19, and Alejandro Yancy, 11.  For this reason, he always says, “leaving was a good decision, but not the best, because I have sacrificed a lot, particularly my children in terms of being a full time father.”  Still, he always looks for a way to make time to fly as frequently as possible to visit his family.  It has also been easier for him to provide economically for his kids now that he works in the United States.

At the time of looking for a job after graduating from University, it is complicated for people because there are not many job opportunities in Puerto Rico.  Carlos, as an educator, always recommends to students to follow their dreams no matter where these may take them.  He says, “Puerto Rico is not the center of the Universe.”  If there are  no professional opportunities in the island after they prepare themselves, I would encourage them all to move to the United States, gain experience and grow professionally in their fields instead of staying depressed in a McDonalds or Walmart. As US citizens we also have a chance to go back and find a much more solid opportunity when they gain expertise.”

One of Carlos Yancy’s kids is Karla Yancy.  She is now 19 and is completing her second year at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez.  This university is well known for the large number of companies that come looking for fresh students to work with them in the mainland.  Carlos recommends both of his kids to do exactly the same.  He says, “As educator and as a parent I want the best for them and if the island is not providing it, I will support them on their  professional ‘cross-over’.”

His daughter sometimes speaks about how much she misses her father, but she always says, “no matter how far he may be, I will always love him  and appreciate his sacrifices.  I am ok with him living in the States, as long as he does not change the way he is and the way he loves us.”

Carlos Yancy in Washington (courtesy of Carlos Yancy)

Carlos Yancy in Washington (courtesy of Carlos Yancy)

Carlos at the high school graduation of his daughter, Karla Yancy (courtesy of Carlos Yancy)

Carlos at the high school graduation of his daughter, Karla Yancy
(courtesy of Carlos Yancy)

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