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Adriana Dos Santos’ Tale Of A Hyphenated U.S. Citizen

Image courtesy Adriana Dos Santos

Belonging can feel like a foreign concept when you lie in the middle of a multicultural Venn diagram, as Adriana Dos Santos describes.

Diverse cultures blossom around you, teasing you with their traditions yet never thoroughly inviting you to participate.

Adriana Dos Santos' Venn Diagram (Image courtesy Adriana Dos Santos)
Adriana Dos Santos’ Venn Diagram (Image courtesy Adriana Dos Santos)

Dos Santos’ dad was born on the tiny island of Madeira, Portugal. He was young when he emigrated to Venezuela, where he met her mom, who was born in Venezuela to strict Madeiran parents, so she embraced many of the island’s religious and cultural traditions. It was a union blessed by the Portuguese Cupid.

Dos Santos herself was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela.

“My beautiful city is a multicultural hub, courtesy of its rich history of migration,” she says.

MULTICULTURALISM AT HOME

Her story with multiculturalism began at home, where Dos Santos’ parents tried to raise her with Portuguese values that she simply did not like.

“My allegiance was with Venezuela,” she says. “I hated my Portuguese looks and last name, and I made an effort not to learn the language. All I knew was arepas, reggaeton and being late to parties.”

Imagine how Dos Santos felt when her family moved to the United States.

Miami proved to be a captivating locale: A melting pot of cultures nestled within the country yet possessing a distinct sense of detachment. Residing in a city that openly embraced its hyphenated identity was oddly reassuring and also an idea that Dos Santos avoided for much of her life.

Image courtesy Adriana Dos Santos
Image courtesy Adriana Dos Santos

EMBRACING HER IDENTITY

Slowly but surely, Dos Santos says she started to embrace her multicultural identity. She would have cachapas for breakfast, go to her English-speaking classes, have half-Spanish/half-Portuguese conversations with her Brazilian friends, walk home listening to Rauw Alejandro and finish her day with a few episodes of “Law and Order: SVU.”

“My days have become a multicultural mess — and I love it that way,” she says.

Every place Dos Santos has been to has added to her identity. Over time, she’s learned to take what she can from all cultures and put her twist on it.

My days have become a multicultural mess — and I love it that way.

“I am Venezuelan and Portuguese and American and everything in between,” she says.

Dos Santos has become a multicultural human — and she’s proud of it.

“I can’t wait to keep exploring the world and adding to my cultural repertoire,” she says. “I am Venezuelan-Portuguese-American, and I embrace all my hyphens.”

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