Mario R Sanchez Lopez
Mario R's Story
i just turned six years old when i left cuba.
i first recall some confusion at the airport in havana that necessitated some last minute negotiations. then helped onto the airplane by a nice klm flight attendant.
arriving in miami i was sent to the camp in florida city. i am surprised to read how this camp is being referenced - i seem to recall it was a camp for juvenile delinquents and not just the peter pan kids that had no one in the u.s.
my first day in the camp i was beaten up. no big deal, just bumps and bruises. the "nurse" that took care of me said 'bienvenido a los estados unidos'. i now laugh at that line, somewhat akin to the movie 'welcome to america'.
lasted about 2 weeks in the camp. then sent to mt. saint john academy in northern new jersey. it was (now closed) until i got there a cloistered convent for nuns and priests. within a few weeks some more kids arrived. all older than me, boys segregated from the girls, about 30-40 in total (i guess).
what a nightmare. many, many issues. my favorite (not) was the punishment for such offenses as speaking spanish (like we had a choice, right???): soap in the mouth.
i spent two years at the convent. i learned english REAL FAST as well as latin.
after those 2 years i was adopted by a russian family with 5 daughters. they lived in oak ridge new jersey. i had to work for room and board doing household type stuff. not bad actually - great lesson in values and humility. the father of the house was a phenomenal man - joe - worked sunrise to sunset in a rock quarry. great memories of him, and of the outdoor life in that part of new jersey.
after about 3 years with that family, my parents 'escaped' in a sense. we were reunited. i was 12.
i left home at 17 and joined the u.s. marine corps. paratrooper in a special forces unit.
then college and life.
i have a B.A. in finance, a M.S. in computer science, a Ph.D. in computer science.
i have 2 boys Matthew and Michael and a daughter - that i named Mariel.