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Embracing cultural diversity

A local Nogalian living in two cultures, in two different countries as a young child. Greta Solinap-Peng Inspires young people to embrace their culture. People often ask me what it’s like growing up in two countries at thousands of miles apart.  And I always say that it has been the fact that I was raised in a multicultural and multilingual. Sure, you might say this was inevitable in my case because my parents lived apart in two different countries. I had the “Mexipino “experience.

I lived for one year with my dad in the Philippines and the following year with my mom in Nogales.  Growing up in the best of both worlds was an experience that I am able to thank my parents for going the extra mile in my upbringing. They could have made my childhood all about “fitting in” by renouncing a specific culture but they didn’t. For them, it was all about finding a healthy middle ground. There were goodbyes all the times while growing up, missing my loved ones, missing out, and jetlag to overcome. 

My experience was a unique one centered on moments like these- eating Filipino food while listening to Juan Gabriel’s Mexican music. I think one of the best parts of being Mexipino was that I was able to embrace my cultural differences in the best way possible. And growing up on the border, Nogales, also totally influenced my worldview. 

After graduating from Nogales High School in 2009, I left for college and attended Harvard College in Boston graduating in 2013.  Before going to medical school at Brown University, I took some time off to work as a volunteer in different tasks serving the underserved communities in the Philippines and spearheaded a collaborative center for X-linked Dystonia Parkinsonism (XDP) in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital.  Thereafter, I enrolled in medical school at Brown University and continued doing work with diverse groups of people. One of the projects I worked with was working on data analysis of health information gathered from several mobile health clinics that served nearly 2,000 Bangladeshi garment factory workers.  

Now, I’m living with my husband in San Francisco both practicing physicians living in a community with a large number of people with origins from all over the world.  But thanks to both my parents and family their immeasurable influence on my childhood equipped me to be a better physician and human being. Unendingly devoted, they sacrificed so that I can get the very best opportunities and experiences. 

Dr. Solinap-Peng

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