Like so many children of immigrants, Lisa Vasquez is a child of two worlds. Vasquez, a resident of Nashua, was born and raised in New York City by her parents, immigrants from the Dominican Republic.
“The first language I learned at home was Spanish,” said Vasquez in an interview with NHPR. “My mother, father, grandparents all spoke Spanish. I learned English at school.”
Vasquez moved to the Dominican Republic with her family when she was a teenager. The experience of moving to a foreign country helped shape her work as a Behavioral Health Strategist with the Nashua Department of Public Health and Community Services. “Everything was so fast-paced,” remembered Vasquez of the move to the DR. “Even though I spoke Spanish, I didn’t quite get the dictation. It took me a while to get comfortable there.”
She said when she moved back to the U.S., she “got lost again”, but didn’t have the outlet to deal with her emotions. “We don’t talk much about feelings in our culture. A lot stays inside because we have to be strong.”
Vasquez now focuses her work in helping immigrants, especially children with the transition of moving to the U.S.; many who struggle with language and cultural barriers. She says it is important for mental health to “work through those feelings”; an opportunity she didn’t have.
On living and raising her family in Nashua, Vasquez says she is seeing a change in her community, “I see a lot of faces that look like mine, and that makes me happy – because the diversity I see is beautiful.”
Publisher’s Note: This story is an aggregate from “Visibles: Lisa Vasquez Works To Make Immigrants Feel At Home In Nashua.” Visibles is a series on NHPR giving Granite Staters in the Latino community the chance to tell stories, in their own words, of their lives — their triumphs, struggles, daily lives and everything in between.