About This Item About
Related Items


Rafael Juarez Bibiano



Rafael Juarez Bibiano moved to the United States from Mexico at the age of 17. During his time in the US, he sought out freedom, both linguistic and physical, by traveling across the country and learning English and the cultures of each region. This taught him the importance of diversity and the confidence that comes of independent travel.




World Region




This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.


Hello, my name is Rafael. I am originally from Cordoba, Veracruz, Mexico, and I want to tell you about how I learned to be my own person.

When I was in Mexico, I lived in a small town around the mountains, with beautiful rivers and landscapes. To get places we had to walk around. Being active and healthy was a lifestyle back home and walking everywhere made me feel free.

When I was 17 years old, I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Nothing compares to where I grew up-everything here is different. There are so many ways to get around, and there are many different people from many different countries, backgrounds, religions, and ethnics. Nothing is only black and white.

In the beginning, my English was poor and it was hard to communicate with others. I wanted to teach myself English and I wanted to teach myself about life. I was adventurous, and I wanted to see what the United States was all about, so I decided to travel around the USA by train. I would travel until I ran out of money, and then I would get off the train and try, communicate with people using sign language it was really tough, so I realized that I would need to speak more English. I worked a couple of days here and there to make enough money to keep riding around. When I stopped in different cities and small towns, I noticed that Americans spoke different English in different places. On the radio, I listened to Spanish music in San Jose, country music in Nashville, and hip-hop in New York City. This made me think that I was beginning to live in a diverse country. We are all different, which is great, because we are all unique, no matter color, race, background. Without diversity in this country, life would be boring Traveling across the USA for 2 years alone made me much more confident. I am me now.

When I finally returned to Minneapolis, I bought a bicycle. When I started to pedal, I got this feeling of freedom, so I rode my bicycle everywhere. It is my main form of transportation, because I can move easily through crowds.

During the summer time, the Twin Cities are alluring. Everyone is out biking, but summer time is too short, and I continue biking during the winter time which is challenging. People tell me that I am crazy, and they ask how it is possible to bike over icy roads, with many inches of snow and windy, cold days. I reply that I am not the only crazy one, because even during the winter, I see people still biking. That makes me feel happy and free.