SkillsUSA SkillsUSA Champions Spring 2010 : Page 8

0HOTO&#1a;,LOYD7OLF rian Garcia doesn’t mind being labeled an Army brat. He doesn’t mind that he had to switch schools every year until recently, and he’s adapted to his dad serving in Afghanistan. It seems the only difficulty he’s had moving around the country has been climate. “I’m still not used to the cold, and I’ve lived here almost four years now,” the New York resident proclaims. Born in Puerto Rico, Garcia came to the U.S. mainland at a young age when his father was assigned to a base in Texas. The family later moved to Oklahoma and then to Fort Drum, N.Y., about 26 miles from the Canadian border. “In Puerto Rico, I was really talkative,” Garcia remembers. “I talked to everyone. I didn’t care who they were or how they looked. When I came to the United States, I tried doing that, but I didn’t speak English. I became really shy. But I was determined to learn English and learn as much as I possibly could so I could talk to more people.” His eyes shine with enthusiasm when recalling the places he’s lived and the people he’s met. “My entire family, except for one uncle, lives in Puerto Rico. The only people to ever leave the island were my [immediate] family and my uncle’s family. “When I was born, my parents needed more money. My parents couldn’t finish college. They weren’t wealthy,” he explains, and at the time Puerto Rico was suffering an economic crisis. “So my dad joined the Army. He left for Georgia for six months, came back and served for several years in Puerto Rico before we were assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.” The young boy learned English by sitting outside of his house and listening to people as they walked by. Then his parents enrolled him in a bilingual school where the main priority was to teach all required subjects and a second language at the same time. “My classes were literally half Spanish, half English,” Garcia says. >

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