I used to love ice cream.
From scratch, I pour all of the ingredients into a massive container, working my biceps as I create a tiny tornado to bring all the flavors of a child’s favorite treat together. The next step involves hours of heavy machinery spinning the mixture as it solidifies into the silky, creamy texture it is known for. Once finished, I press play and allow my music to fast-forward time as I scoop the coconut delight into hundreds of individual cups to be packaged in the near future.
This has been my life since August 14th, 2009, when my parents decided to migrate 744 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to a country I had only seen on vacation. Everything we knew, from our friends and family, to the life my parents had built for my sisters and I, was simply gone, in a matter of eight days.
At that time in my life, I didn’t realize the massive risk my parents were taking, what with no home and a job that was anything but stable. Flipping a bankrupted business is for individuals who can afford it, not for immigrants who still have three daughters to put through college. It was evident that if our family was to succeed in creating a life in the United States, it would be necessary for everyone in my family to roll up their sleeves and work together
When describing my parents’ job, and thus, my job, to other people, they tend to get blinded by the word “ice cream”. Any child, and most adults for that matter, would be ecstatic about it because they imagine the business as an ice cream parlor replete with bright, shimmering colors and a jovial young man toting a neat apron and cap, taking their order across the counter. My parents’ business is quite different. IC Distributor LLC is located inside a warehouse in the industrial region of Miami, FL. We distribute the ice cream. We are the ones you can thank for stocking South Florida’s local ice cream truck, not the ones who ask if you want a cone or a cup.
Even as a 10-year-old, I remember quickly slipping and sealing the frozen coconut shells into a plastic pocket bearing our company’s name before its contents melted. To this day, we still do not have the funds to invest in machinery for mass production. Everything we do requires a grand amount of manual labor. It requires me to wake up every Saturday at 7 a.m. while every other teenager I knows sleeps in until noon. As the youngest, it required me to inherit my sisters’ duties as each one left for college. However, it also requires me to take on responsibilities that many young people do not get to experience until after they graduate from college.
Even though we have always been the underdogs in this industry, we are still here and expanding every day. These past seven years have not been a stroll in the park; they have been an uphill climb that still has not plateaued. The dark circles under my parents’ eyes, their weary demeanor, and the late nights now have a different meaning. This company is proof of my parents’ determination and perseverance. It may not be a million-dollar investment, but our family, time, and sweat proves to be more than enough. My parents’ hard work will not go unnoticed, and neither will mine.
My transition to college will be all the evidence I need.