Libertad Cordero Ocon

"You have to be strong to leave everything behind and start from scratch again"

 

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Libertad Cordero Ocon

Country of Origin: Costa Rica.

State of Residency: VIC. Favourite place in Australia: Mt. Buller in Victoria. Upon arrival: Surprised by how cold the weather was!

By Cristy Abela

Libertad is a brave mother of one and wife to an Australian man. She is also an entrepreneur and currently part of a team that administers the office of an orthopeadic surgeon. She loves being active and dancing samba and reggaeton to feel closer to her Latino roots and as a way to give back to the community as they perform at charity events. She dedicates this story to her dad; whom she lost at the beginning of the year: 'my life and journey in Australia would have been so different without his love and support'.

 

Tell us Your Story

  The family at the citizenship ceremony

The family at the citizenship ceremony

In 2007 I met my now Australian husband, Josh, while we were working at the same company; however, he was based in Sydney and I was in Costa Rica. In 2008, he requested for a transfer to Costa Rica so we could be together. We lived there for four years. However, we wanted the best for our daughter and we knew Australia would provide better opportunities. Although our hearts understood this was a good decision, it was very hard to leave behind family and friends. We moved to Melbourne in 2012. When we arrived we took on a family business (a medical clinic) that had been run into the ground. This put a lot of stress on us and into our marriage. During this time we faced many difficulties we did not know we would encounter when we first agreed to took on the business. It took over 3 years for things to get to a point where we could sell the business and start over.

After selling the business, we decided to take a few months off in order to recharge our souls. The best way to do this was by visiting the family in Costa Rica for a couple of months. Upon return we secured jobs (not in our fields of study but jobs nonetheless). Things have been progressing since. I found a job as admin staff at  the office of an orthopaedic surgeon. My husband is now a manager for a clinic in Doncaster. Our daughter has gone through primary school and will start high school next year. She has a really lovely group of friends, still speaks both languages fluently and is actually helping a younger friend to learn Spanish. She also competes at a professional level of cheerleading.

Going through hardship makes you appreciate things from a different perspective. My migration journey has thought me many lessons, mainly personal ones in terms of resilience, love, patience and strength. I was blessed to have our family supporting us with, despite of the distance. Their calls, their letters, their love; made a difference in my day by day. I’ve realized we are all successful in our own migration story as it takes courage to move to a new country. You have to be strong to leave everything behind and start from scratch again. We have been lucky we have met really wonderful people along the way. Some of them have turned into great friends that we now consider family. I can now say Australia is my home and we made the right decision by moving here.

 

Challenges

  Mom and daughter selfie

Mom and daughter selfie

Leaving family behind – Not having your own family here is one of the hardest things to overcome. Learning to love them in the distance is something I have learnt to do.  I guess only time helps you to miss them without the heaviness in the heart.

Not belonging – You feel you don’t belong to this country and that the culture and language is foreign (although I was fluent in English, but not in 'Australian' English). All you can do, is to make your own way. It takes time, but things settle. I discovered Melbourne is a very multicultural place and that made things easier. There are always lots of markets and Latino festivals that make me feel that the Latino culture also belongs in this multicultural space.

Distance during difficult times – My biggest challenge was having my dad sick back in Costa Rica. It’s so heartbreaking not to be able to be there. He knew I was always there for him, and he was always there for me, but not being able to look after him through his disease was extremely hard. I know he is proud of me for being brave and leaving everything behind for better opportunities for our family.

Contrasts

  Libertad in samba gear for a fundraiser charity performance.

Libertad in samba gear for a fundraiser charity performance.

The family dynamic - Latinos value family so much, we are very much attached to the family nucleus and catch up on weekly basis. The family structure here is completely different and we sort of expected things to be similar.

Structures - I feel Latinos are more spontaneous and much less organized when it comes to social activities. We will drop by people’s home on the weekend with no notice, something that would be considered terribly rude here. However, I love Australian structure on the roads. Unlike Costa Rica, the rules are actually followed and it makes driving such an easy task.

Piece of advice

Migrate with no expectations -  I know it is easier said than done, but having an idea in your head of "what life is going to be", and not necessarily meeting that expectation; makes it harder. It might not let you see what is in front of you. Come with an open mind and an open heart.

Take the risk and try it - This is a beautiful country filled with opportunities: jobs, careers, business, etc. It is an incredible place for art, music, food, festivals; you name it. It is also safe and public transport is great. Take the plunge, take the risk and do it. If an opportunity for a change is what you are after, this is a great place to achieve it. There is a big Latino community where you can find support and many resources to step you on the right direction.

Be kind- I try to live by the quote: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle". It doesn't cost anything to be kind, and it can make such a big difference in someone's life.

In the next few years...

Libertad would love to become a volunteer at the Royal Children's Hospital. She would also like to continue doing her samba classes and get much better at it. Not only for her love of dancing or the closeness she feels of her latin culture; but also due to the fact that they do performances at charity events, which is an awesome way to give back to the community.