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- Growing Up Bronx
There are about 7 billion people in the world at this point in time. We all vary in sex, age, race, religion, social class, in our values, in our opinions. But no matter what our differences are, we each have the ability to change the world. We each have the ability to make a difference. It is up to us to make the difference as positive as possible.
An ‘inspiring’ assignment
As some of you might know by now, I’m a writer living in Australia. I’m currently studying a ‘Magazine and Newspaper Writing’ course run by the Australian Writers’ Centre. For Assignment 3, I was asked to interview someone I knew of, but didn’t know incredibly well yet.
To be honest, the editor here at NYC Talking, Angel Rodriguez, was the first person I thought of.
Angel and I have talked on multiple occasions, and as far as the distance is between Perth, Australia and New York, USA – I’ve come to know him as a caring, determined person who has a deep respect for other people.
He jumped at the chance of being interviewed on Skype – and that more than illustrated the sort of person that he is. He is always willing to lend a helping hand, and to me, that is what ‘making a difference’ is all about. It’s about having a positive impact on people’s lives.
Angel’s life story
So to demonstrate how a man all the way from New York was able to touch my life, have a read of the profile that I wrote about him.
Angel Rodriguez isn’t your typical hero. He doesn’t fight fires or solve crimes. However, his inner struggles have seen him fight in a battle against himself. After moving from Puerto Rico to New York at age 5, Angel was later introduced to a world of gangs, drugs and crime. There was a strong pre-disposition to see him fail. But despite the odds, he pulled it together and turned his life around. He was determined to make something of himself. The only reminder he has of those days now are in his creative pursuits as a performer, where he writes music and poetry with sometimes brutal but, always heartfelt honesty.
Beneath the scruffy hair and ‘tough guy’ exterior, there’s a man who feels alive when he’s creating music. “When I’m able to look at something that I’ve made, it makes me smile to think that I created that.” It is this intense passion for music, that makes it easy to understand why his fans adore him. Angel, 35, is an inspiring example of how far determination can take you.
It’s not just his determination towards music that helps him stand out either, but also his ability to juggle performing with his job as a Desktop Support Technician on Wall Street. Overcoming the odds, Angel was able to get an education. “I believe that your life is a consequence of your decisions. I made the decisions I did, that’s how I got here,” he reflects.
And he’s been making other important decisions too. As well as writing and working, he’s been hitting the gym to get his body back into shape. “I got to this point and realised, ‘I could die’. It was getting bad for my health, so I knew I had to do something about it.” He’s hoping to lose 70 pounds and with the determination he’s already shown, his chances are looking good.
He isn’t losing focus on his other goals, either. “My site, NYC Talking, is where I write about current affairs and news. I want it to gain visibility. And I want to be acknowledged for my music. Even if I’m not at the forefront, I just want to be recognised somehow.”
And whether this recognition happens or not, Angel is happy just to give it his best shot. “If that never happens, I’ll be perfectly content,” he says. “I’ll just enjoy the ride.”
It has been quite a turbulent ride for Angel. One that he could have easily gotten off. But he chose not to back down, even when the going got tough. “I’m happy to have gotten out of a bad situation; to have had my kid, to be a good role model for him. I believe that a lot of bad can happen to you, but there’s no point getting upset.. It is what it is.”
Angel may not be your typical hero. He may not have won a bravery award or saved a woman from drowning. But he saved one very important life. His very own.
One person CAN make a difference
Although I’d never met Angel in person, I was so incredibly inspired by the interview I had with him. His positive attitude and determination shone through his words. They did nothing less than touch me.
The crazy thing was, aside from the interview, all my communication with him has been online through Facebook and Twitter. So how could a man in a far away place like New York, touch someone else in such a deep and meaningful way?
Well, I believe we all have the ability to touch each other’s lives that way. To teach one another life lessons, to help each other reflect back on who we are and what we value. We all have the ability to do that for other people – any where, any time.
But it is up to us to take responsibility of that. To be wise with our words. To be meaningful with our actions. To think twice before we act.
We may be just ‘one’ person in a world full of 7 billion people, but we are still capable of making a difference. The amount of difference, though, depends on us.
Growing Up Bronx