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Presenting the NATO of CA/NV 2017 Scholarship Winners...

The American Dream is an ideal that is sought after by everyone living in the United States. It has a different meaning for every individual. For some it is continuing an ongoing family legacy, and for thousands of immigrants it is a hope for a better life. In a sense we are all immigrants or at least descendants of one. Sadly, as decades pass, descendents of these immigrants start to forget the hardships their ancestors had to endure. That is why I would urge everybody to watch an independent film directed by Gara Nava, that tells the story of a multi-generational Mexican-American family as they chase their own American Dream.

In the movie titled, My Family, the American Dream is presented through the life of Jose, a Mexican immigrant who leaves his homeland for what he trusts will be a better life in the United States. He quickly realizes that it’s going to take hard work and determination to achieve the life he envisions. He finds solace in knowing he will not need to chase his American Dream alone as he falls in love with Maria, a U.S. citizen. They soon marry and have kids. The rest of the movie’s plot follows their children as they grow up and begin their own adult lives.

Of course, a movie would not be complete without some sort of conflict. Throughout the movie, various obstacles and tragedies occur such as Maria getting deported and the death of their second oldest son and a known gang member, Chucho. Maria would have to make her way back to her husband in a 2 year-long journey. Chucho’s death leaves youngest brother Jimmy devastated and leads him into a criminal life similar to his brother’s.

As much conflict as there is in this movie, there are also many successes by members of the family. Eldest daughter, Irene, married and later on opens up a successful restaurant. Eldest son, Paco, enlists in the Navy, and his brother Memo becomes a lawyer. Conflicts like those previously mentioned and successes like these are common among immigrant households. Each member of a family has the option to do well in life. It all depends on their tenacity to reach their American Dream. The road is not always straight as many of us believe. It runs through peaks and valleys, there are times when it seems out of reach and other times where it’s just a leap away.

As a Mexican-American I see my own family’s story portrayed in this film. However, Maria and Jose fall under the archetype of generations of immigrants from around the world. Therefore, anybody could take away the lessons shown by the members of this family. It does not matter if your ancestors came from Ireland in the late 19th century or from Japan during the construction of the railroads. They gave us an opportunity to follow our own American Dream.

Overall, My Family leaves the viewer with motivation to succeed and reach their American Dream. It promotes reflection about our pasts and roots in this country. Whether your ancestors first settled in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles, they all have a similar story of fighting against oppression, difficulties, and cultural appropriation to achieve their dreams. As descendants of our ancestors we must keep their struggles in mind as we shape our own lives. We have already surpassed their American Dream, now it's our turn to raise the bar of success for our children. Not everyone will achieve their American Dream due to poor life decisions, but that is why the American Dream ideal is greatly sought after. It is not easy, it is very difficult at times. Nevertheless, it is important to always move forward. If you aren’t moving forward, you're either staying stagnant or moving backwards. If you ever feel like the American Dream is slipping through your hands, put on My Family and realize there is beauty in the struggle.

 

 

 

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