One of Wilson County Motors’ newest employees is Javier Galan, 23, of Hermitage, seems like a normal guy – and he is, but his path in life is a story of immigration and perseverance in pursuit of the American dream.
When Galan was just barely a year old, his mother enrolled them both in a lottery with the possibility to leave Cuba, but it wasn’t until he was 12 that the opportunity to permanently and legally exile to the United States became a reality.
“I was the one who actually got the envelope,” Galan said.
He didn’t know exactly what was in that heavy thick envelope, but he knew it was important.
Galan has lived in the United States for nearly 11 years, but he carries with him the memories and life lessons from his native Cuba.
“Cuba is very poor. It’s almost got its own intellect,” Galan said. “It’s like a time capsule where everything stopped, and yet you’re aware of everything that is happening around the world, but you don’t have access to it.
“It’s night and day. There’s no opportunity over there. A doctor, a specialist, will make less money than someone who hustles, who sells cement or sells paper on the side – on the black market.
“We didn’t have a lot, and I had a lot more than other people, so that puts it into perspective. I always had shoes. I never went hungry. My mom and dad always provided, but it was never enough.”
Galan moved to Tennessee a year and a half ago, but he spent most of his life in Miami’s deep-rooted Cuban communities since he was 12. His father still lives in Miami, and his mother lives in North Carolina. Galan and his fiancé welcomed their first child, a boy, nine months ago.
Galan is smart and fully aware his immigration story is a privilege compared to the struggles of many who want to come to the United States. That understanding has help to make Galan passionate and driven about his life.
“Right now, it’s a hot topic – immigration – but the opportunity is there. Yeah, bad luck is going to happen. What are you going to do? It’s meant to happen. Hardship is all relative to the person, but in some way it’s going to shape you in a better way. It’s going to make you go – if you have it in you,” Galan said.
Galan has little family left in Cuba, and as a new father, his sights are set on creating a good environment for his son and building a future for himself and his family in the United States.
“I’m a Cuban-American and I’m very proud of my origin,” Galan said. “I’m proud of where I’m from, but that’s where I’m from. This country forged who I am. That’s a different thing.
“Coming here was a galvanizing point. I couldn’t be any happier that I’m here,” Galan said. “I have my family here, my fiancé’, my son and my mother and father, which they’re in different states but we’re all in the same country.”
Galan said he struggles with communicating the impact of his personal immigration story, from the culture shock when he first arrived in Miami to seeing all of his options and opportunities expand simply based off of his number pulled.
“It’s such a personal pathway. You’re paving the way for my son. My son is half-Cuban and half-American. Here, we are mixing cultures, forging this different path,” Galan said. “My son came into this world with all the opportunities, and he has hungry parents who want to only better his options and abilities.”
“I want to be the best father as possible and the best husband that I could possibly be to my fiancé. I just want to be a good dude – I want to help people,” Galan said.
Galan, a former CrossFit instructor who is continuing his education in exercise science, knows he wants to be in a position to help people every day, from dieting and exercise to lifestyle advice.
“If I can help to put that emotional deposit into people’s lives to live better, to change people’s perspectives in little ways, that’s what I want,” Galan said. “I’d like to start a podcast. I’d like to write a book. I just want to be a good dude.”