Sydney Shalz’s family is like many of today – it truly is a modern blended family made of hers, his and ours. The blonde-haired, green-eyed beauty and her family also have a cultural twist that makes Shalz and her siblings cross-cultural kids or CCKs– people who traverse culture in their daily lives, whether from immigrant families, minority populations living in a majority environment, racially-, ethnically- or religiously-blended families and more.
This is the first of three videos where Shalz discusses her family, its dynamics and how that affected her life. Her parents live in Highlands Ranch and recently celebrated their 18th year anniversary of marriage. Her stepfather is from Chihuahua, Mexico, and really puts a twist on the immigration talk that currently is abuzz in the United States. It truly is an American dream story as her parents are successful business people who give back to their community, their state and their country.
Though Shalz’ step-grandmother was a well-respected and successful educator in Mexico, the family followed its patriarch’s dream of “making it big” in the U.S. “He literally swam the Rio Grande,” to get to the United States, said Shalz. Her mom and stepfather met in Kansas at Fort Hayes University. They each already had one child, having another together a couple years after their wedding.
Hardworking and determined, Shaz’ family started a new life in Colorado with the family of five living in a two bedroom apartment. Her family now owns a successful small business that works with some of Colorado’s, and the nation’s, largest economic business giants. With her step-father immigrating from Mexico to Kansas at age six, he truly embodies the traits of a Third Culture Kid or TCK (someone who lived in different countries during their formative years) – of which, resilience, determination, hard work and love of entrepreneurship are a few. Her family’s story really shows some of the benefits of cultural diversity, and how it helps fuel innovation and tolerance in today’s complicated world.
The second of this three part series will delve into how growing up in an intercultural family changed Shalz’ perspective on life.