Q: When did you first come to the U.S.?
A: 1980. It was supposed to be a three-week visit to my sister, who lived in California at the time. I ended up staying for six months. In 1983, my sister moved to New York City, so I visited her for another six months. I met my wife, who is from Indiana, in Guatemala in 1986; and in 1996 we decided it was time to move to the states permanently.
Q: What was your first job?
A: When I first got here, I worked all kinds of odd jobs. But in 1996, I was a waiter at Jerry’s Restaurant, and then I was a waiter at Grindstone Charley’s for seven years.
THE SANTOS FILE
Date of birth: May 16, 1959
Place of birth: Guatemala City, Guatemala
First language: Spanish
Lives in: Columbus
Job title: Owner, Beads de Colores
Education: Degree in accounting from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala
Family: Wife, Debbie; children, Melissa (25), Stephanie (23), Dustin (21), Jasmine (18)
Hobbies: Traveling. Santos makes three or four trips back to Guatemala each year to visit his family and also travels on weekends to bead shows around the country.
Q: What were the primary lessons you learned from that job?
A: The culture of the states. That was the main thing. It also improved my English. I met a lot of interesting people. It was a lot of fun. Lots of good memories.
Q: When you first came to the U.S., what major differences did you notice right away?
A: The biggest thing was the economy. It’s great here, comparatively speaking. I am from a very small, poor country. Everything is different here.
Q: What major cultural differences have you noticed?
A: Americans are very open. In my country, we are more conservative. In Guatemala, there is a lot we keep to ourselves. Americans can be more outgoing.
Q: How have you adjusted culturally?
A: It’s hard at first, but it feels like home now. I like to see a lot of things, and I am very curious, so I adjust pretty quickly. In the beginning, it was hard to meet people, but I feel very secure now.
Q: What advice do you have for internationals who are just now coming to Columbus?
A: Live life. Just enjoy. Do what you can to meet people, and talk to whoever you can. You learn so much that way.
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